Sponsor: Senate’s changes wreck law to allow child-sex lawsuits

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

March 22, 2018

By Ty Tagami

It was supposed to open the courts to adults who say they were sexually abused decades ago, but Georgia’s Hidden Predator Act has been so heavily amended that its author says it would be of no use to the victims he knows.

“I will now have to tell the five men in my district that I tried to help them, but I couldn’t,” Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, said Thursday after a Senate committee voted unanimously to add several pages of amendments that limit who can sue.

House Bill 605 faced opposition from two powerful institutions that have been accused of systematically covering up child sexual abuse: the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts. It passed the House of Representatives 170-0 last month with language that would have opened the door wide to lawsuits by adults of any age. But the Senate Judiciary Committee, meeting in private, added several pages of amendments that effectively shield such organizations from most liability over past inaction.

“We tried to strike a balance for victims’ rights and the rights of defendants, particularly entities, to due process,” said the committee chairman, Sen. Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro.

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