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Lawmaker calls for change in child sex abuse cases, says Utah ‘one of the best at protecting predators’

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Posted at 9:37 PM, Feb 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-18 23:37:03-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Utah lawmaker criticized the state on Wednesday for not doing more to protect child victims of sexual abuse. Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, brought a bill before a House committee that he believes will remedy the problem by removing the statute of limitations in civil cases filed by victims.

"It's kind of tragic that Utah is one of the worst states in the nation in protecting child victims of sexual abuse," Ivory said. "And it's one of the best at protecting predators."

While the statute of limitations on criminal child sexual abuse cases was eliminated in 2008, the civil requirements have made it difficult for some victims to seek justice. Under current law, the statute of limitations runs out four years after the victim turns 18, or at the time of "discovery" of the act.

"The average time for a child victim of sexual abuse is 20 years to report," Ivory said.

The statistic was reinforced by testimony given to lawmakers.

"Sexual assault of a child is murdering that childhood, or murdering that innocence," said DeAnn Tilton, who spoke in favor of the bill Wednesday.

From approximately age 6 to age 10, Tilton was sexually abused. However, It was not until she was about 18 years old that she began to process it.

"I was terrified of my abuser," she said. "They used force and punishment to silence me and keep me silent."

By the time she was ready to face them, it was too late.

"We need to ask ourselves as a society, what would be fair?" Tilton said.

Included in the bill Wednesday was an amendment that focused on how employers could be held accountable in a civil suit if an employee committed the abuse.

Because the language was added late, lawmakers held the proposal to have more time to review it.