Bill would let victims sue over cover-ups of decades-old sex abuse

Legislation unveiled Wednesday at the Georgia Capitol would let adults who were sexually abused as children sue institutions that they believe shielded their predators.

House Bill 605, titled the Hidden Predator Act of 2018, would impose a two-year suspension of the civil statute of limitations in cases alleging childhood sexual abuse. Under current law, victims have until age 23 to file civil cases.

The proposal is similar to a 2015 law that created a similar two-year window, which expired June 30. The earlier law, however, did not allow lawsuits against institutions that knew or should have known that abuse occurred. The new proposal would authorize suits against the institutions as well as the perpetrators.

The measure would ensure accountability for “any negligent entity that may have covered up or turned a blind eye to the issue,” the sponsor, state Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine), said during a news conference, which also featured adults who filed lawsuits under the 2015 law.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers signed on as sponsors of the bill, but Spencer expects opposition from business groups and insurance companies. In 2015, he said, lobbyists “undermined” the legislation by exempting institutions that may have been culpable in abuse cases.

No groups publicly worked against the 2015 bill but “worked the back channels of the legislative process,” Spencer said. “That is unacceptable on this issue.”

Follow HB 605 Georgia on the AJC Legislative Tracker

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