Senator slams GOP for not hearing bill on suits by childhood abuse victims
Senate Republican leaders are denying adult victims of child abuse their chance at justice by bottling up a bill that would allow them to press charges decades after turning 18, a Democratic lawmaker said Tuesday.
Sen. Amanda Aguirre, D-Yuma, held a news conference to criticize Republicans for putting a hold on her bill that would extend the time a victim has to press charges from two to 35 years after becoming a legal adult.
"I've known quite a few survivors of sexual abuse," Aguirre said in an interview, noting that many abuse victims don't come forward until they are adults. "It makes me really upset to know that they can't face again the one who committed that crime and that person might still be doing the same thing today to other children."
SB 1292 won unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Senate President Robert "Bob" Burns, R-Peoria, said it won't go further.
In an interview, Burns said he wants to protect insurance companies from having too much liability in covering clients in child care-related industries. He also said the bill allows too much time to pass and could lead to people being wrongly accused.
"My concern is that there is some weakness in the system that allows people to basically be interviewed and convinced that something happened but maybe didn't happen," Burns said. "That's a very serious issue."
At the news conference, Synthia Miller, an adult child-abuse victim from Holbrook, said Burns is putting insurance companies' interests ahead of children.
"I am aghast at what Senator Burns is doing and I encourage him to rethink his stand on this issue," Miller said.
Aguirre said more than 40 states have adopted laws similar to the bill's provisions and Burns' concerns are minor issues compared with protecting Arizona youth. She and Miller sid they hoped a public outcry would propel the bill to a floor vote.
"I'm here again, very disappointed that our majority leadership has opposed to move this forward," Aguirre said. "We are here to stand behind those children who are now adults."