ST. MARYS, Ga. - House Bill 17, also known as the Hidden Predator Act, passed with overwhelming support in the Georgia House of Representatives with votes of 169 to 2.
Action News first showed you in February how the bill’s sponsor Rep. Jason Spencer of District 180 wants to give victims of child sex abuse more power in civil court by extending the statute of limitations.
The bill passed the House with overwhelming support, but Spencer said he did have to make some changes.
“What we ended up with was we did not change the statute of limitations from age 23 but instead we decided to work around that short statute of limitations. I implemented a process called a discovery rule,” said Spencer. “If you're age 40 and you have passed the statute of limitations in Georgia and you discovered within two years that your injuries were a result of child sexual abuse, then you could take that evidence to a court.”
The bill also includes a revival window of two years which means victims can come forward with civil claims against the perpetrator that were previously barred from courtrooms. Spencer wants to add potentially negligent third parties to the revival window.
Another change he wants to make as the bill heads to the Senate is extending the age of coming forward. According to SOL-Reform.com, Georgia’s current civil statute of limitations law only gives victims until 23 to come forward while Florida doesn’t have a civil statute of limitations when the victim is under 16.
“I would like to increase the civil statute from age 23 to age 38 because all the research shows survivors are not going to come forward until around age 40,” said Spencer.
The Senate can either come up with its own version or make changes to the current bill. Spencer said he’s confident the bill will pass this year.