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Arizona's New Law – Addressing the Need for Change
On May 27, 2019, Governor Doug Ducey signed into law Arizona's victims' rights bill, HB2466, resulting in the passing of A.R.S. § 12-514. In so doing, Arizona has effectively reformed the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse survivors, creating new opportunities for healing, justice, and accountability.
Perhaps the most important part of this new law has been the opening of a one-time window where the statute of limitations is essentially suspended for all claims, allowing many survivors who were abused decades ago to file previously time-barred suits alleging sexual abuse.
An historic step forward for child protection, the Arizona victims' rights bill:
- Extends the age limit to bring a claim against a perpetrator by 12 years, from the current age of 20 to the new age of 30.
- Opens a temporary window for survivors older than 30 to file civil claims against their perpetrators and the institutions that knew or had actual notice of misconduct that created an unreasonable risk of sexual abuse, no matter when the abuse occurred.
- The temporary window will close on December 31, 2020 for survivors 30 years of age and older.
Why This Makes A Difference
As Governor Ducey said, while signing the bill into law, "We cannot overstate the pain and trauma suffered by victims of childhood sexual abuse. We know victims need time to process and understand what happened. They deserve the time to come forward."
Recovering from sexual assault or abuse takes time, sometimes years to process what occurred, to the point where the victim is able to come forward. Even after the physical damage has healed, a survivor's mental scars may persist for a lifetime.
Before this bill was passed, the statute of limitations was generally two years from the child's 18th birthday to file a lawsuit against a sexual predator, or the organization that employed or enabled that sexual predator. This meant that many who were victims as children were left without recourse as they grew older. While they may have been sexually abused as a minor, because they failed to file suit anytime from the ages of 18-20, their rights to civil justice were forever extinguished.
Holding Institutions Responsible
One troubling fact concerns how some institutions, businesses, and organizations have knowingly allowed abusers to continue to work within their ranks, especially with children. If such an entity fails to take common sense preventative measures, then the organization may be found negligent, and this negligence can be determined a cause of the abuse. In this way, the institution or employer can be held legally responsible for the harm to the child, in addition to the perpetrator.
Without enablers, abusers often would not have access to their victims. Nor would they have the credibility and trust gained through their employment that frequently makes such abuse possible. The law permits employers to be held accountable that fail to conduct basic background checks on their employees who work with children, or who allow dangerous employees to remain in their positions.
If you were a victim of sexual abuse as a minor, it is vitally important that you reach out to us right away. Why?
There are many reasons:
- Witnesses tend to forget facts over time
- Records can be destroyed
- Entities may go out of business
If you are wondering whether Arizona's new law will revive your claim, or if you are otherwise affected, please Contact Us for a free initial consultation. Your information will remain completely confidential.