Arizona senator holds budget to force vote on child rape

It doesn’t seem like Senator Paul Boyer is asking for much.

He wants to give victims who were sexually abused as children more time to hold their rapists accountable. More time to do what they can to make sure that other children, today’s children, are protected.

Only in Arizona would such a thing be controversial.

Controversial enough, in fact, that Senate Speaker Karen Fann refused to put the bill to a vote.

Child rape is non-negotiable, says Boyer

Now Boyer has issued a threat: He won’t vote for any state budget until his bill passes. Last week, Sen. Heather Carter, R-Phoenix, joined his protest, leaving the Senate unable to pass a budget unless Senate leaders are willing to strike a deal with Democrats.

The couple also want a significant chunk of fresh money for schools, school counselors and affordable housing. But it’s his bill for child rape victims that Boyer says is non-negotiable.

“In my seven years here, I’ve never made a threat before this,” the Glendale Republican told me on Friday. “I can’t think of anything more important than that.”

Boyer, who teaches 11th grade literature at Great Hearts North Phoenix Preparatory Academy, said the inspiration for his bill came from Larry Nassar, the American gym doctor sentenced to at least 40 years in prison after several hundreds of girls accused him of assault.

The first of Nassar’s accusers was 31 when she recounted what happened to her when she was 15. In Arizona, she would not have had the right to sue, even if the abuse had reached the level of rape.

Sue before the age of 20, or you’re out of luck

When it comes to child sexual abuse victims, Arizona is one of the most generous states, i.e. for child molesters.

Oh, a child rapist can be criminally prosecuted at any time, but there aren’t many children who keep DNA evidence or know how to file a police report or even realize they’ve been victimized s have been sufficiently cared for by their predator.

It’s often only a decade or two — or three — later that they realize what happened, working through the emotional and psychological turmoil to realize it wasn’t their fault.

By then, however, it is too late.

In Arizona, a child who has been sexually assaulted has up to 20 years to file a lawsuit against his or her rapist. That’s the same time you have to sue if you slip on a banana peel and slightly less time than if you had a contract dispute.

No other state offers such a short statute of limitations for civil suits against alleged child rapists, according to legislative researchers. Eight states, including Utah, have no statute of limitations.

Bill gives victims more time, ability to sue

Boyer proposed giving victims seven years to file a lawsuit, and the clock wouldn’t start to tick if the person disclosed the assault to a licensed medical or mental health professional.

His bill also includes a two-year window to file claims for those whose statute of limitations has already expired, but he waived that, given the opposition.

He remains firm, however, on the need for another provision – allowing a victim to sue anyone who helped hide the abuse, primarily organizations that ignored or covered up evidence of child abuse or sexual assault and allowed predators to gain access to children.

Insurance companies are not happy about it. Boyer thinks that’s why Fann won’t introduce the bill in the Senate.

Fann, R-Prescott, did not return a phone call Friday. She previously said Boyer’s bill could victimize business owners who could be sued decades after the fact for acts that may or may not have been committed by employees who are no longer there.

Threat of lawsuit brings change

Boyer points out that there are penalties for bringing frivolous lawsuits and that in some cases these employees or volunteers are still abusing children.

It is these lawsuits, or the threat of them, that are pressuring organizations like the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church to do more to protect children. That is why many states are set to adjust their statutes of limitation allow victims of long-standing sexual abuse to sue for damages.

Or not if they’re in Arizona, where key lawmakers — Fann, Senate Judiciary Chairman Eddie Farnsworth and House Appropriations Chairwoman Regina Cobb — have been unwilling to bring Boyer’s bill to the fore. vote.

Boyer says it’s because if they did, it would pass massively.

“I just think kids need to be protected,” he told me. “If we’re not protecting the children, I don’t know what we’re doing there.”

Contact Roberts at [email protected].