Arizona Child Sexual Abuse Survivors Granted New Rights in Unanimous Legislature Vote

(Phoenix, AZ) – On May 27, 2019, following a groundbreaking unanimous legislative approval in the wake of emotionally-charged negotiations and testimony, Governor Doug Ducey signed into law Arizona’s own victims’ rights bill (HB2466). In so doing, Arizona has joined the ranks of New York, New Jersey, and a growing number of other states in effectively reforming the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse survivors and opening new roads to healing, justice, and accountability.

“This bill is an important step in providing victims of child sexual abuse the justice they deserve,” tweeted Governor Ducey, immediately following his signature. “Thank you to [Senator Paul Boyer] and every legislator who worked to move this important legislation forward.”

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 protected them, no matter when the abuse occurred.
  • Takes effect as of signing (May 27, 2019), with the temporary window remaining open until December 31, 2020 for survivors older than 30.

Despite the final unanimous approval, getting there was no easy feat. The bill proved divisive for the legislature, acting as a roadblock for an $11.8M legislative budget approval. Of the compromises made, the most notable is that the standard of proof in civil child sexual abuse claims has been increased. Though adding slightly more difficulty to the process, the legislation is a landmark victory for the child protection movement of which it is a part.

“Arizona is no longer the dark corner where you can hide a pedophile,” said Senator Heather Carter. “With this bill, we are bringing victims out of the shadows, and giving them their voice in the justice system.” This is true up to a point. The law, however, is not perfect—there should be no statute of limitations for sexual abuse. It can take survivors decades to be able to come forward for many reasons, including trauma and shame. But it is a vast improvement and worth celebrating.