It is shocking how party loyalty can get in the way of doing what’s right for the people of Arizona.
Today, the House Appropriations Committee debated lengthening Arizona’s statute of limitations to report child sexual abuse from a two years (after you turn 18) to twelve years. It also allows for a one or two year window after the bill passes in which any past victims (whose time to complain had run out) can come forward and file a complaint related to past child abuse. The Appropriations Chair sponsored the strike everything to SB1101 but didn’t want to bring it up for a vote— only discussion— but the agenda didn’t say “discussion only.”
Senator Paul Boyer, who sponsored the original bill to lengthen the time to report, spoke in favor on a vote in the bill. He said that Arizona is an “outlier” in child sexual assault and has the most restrictive reporting statutes in the US.
“Arizona ranks last in the country for laws protecting children who have been sexually abused…In fact, Arizona doesn’t even have a separate statute for child victims of sexual assault as this falls under the personal injury statute…
Further, if a child sexual abuse survivor comes forward after the age of 20 and tries to expose his or her perpetrator, he or she can be sued for slander by the perpetrator if the statute of limitations has passed – regardless of how much evidence he or she presents.
Indeed, Arizona laws favor the child rapist.
— Senator Paul Boyer, Capitol Times
Senator Eddie Farsworth, who stopped Boyer’s original bill as chair of Senate Judiciary, spoke strongly against the bill and complained about lack of decorum and respect for the process. (Ahem… we hear and vote on half-baked strike everything bills ALL THE TIME.)
During the two-and-a-half-hour debate, the Democrats argued for the rights of the victims, while the Republicans worried that people who “might have done something stupid decades ago” could get caught in the open window that allows past victims to come forward. Remembering his friends who were molested as children and who ended up in prison or who committed suicide, Rep. Diego Espinoza made a motion to overrule the chair and bring SB1101 up for a vote. Unfortunately, since the 11-person committee has only four Democrats, the motion failed. All seven Republicans voted to back Cobb and Farnsworth, to throw victims under the bus, and to kill SB1101.
For more details on the committee hearing, here is the Capitol Times story.
And here are a few related stories…