HB277, HB345: Bills cracking down on child sexual abuse advance through House

By Jackson Hadley
Capital West News

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah House of Representatives gave its approval Monday morning to a pair of bills that would affect how the state deals with child sexual abuse cases.

HB277, by Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, would eliminate the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases. HB345, by Rep. Daniel McCay, R-Riverton, would ban anyone convicted of a felony involving child abuse from receiving or renewing a license to teach children in school.

Emotions ran high as legislators addressed the bills, as victims of abuse looked on from the gallery and representatives shared how abuse has affected them personally.

“In Utah we’re among the worst in protecting and affording protections for victims of child sexual abuse,” said Ivory. “One in four girls and one in six boys will suffer the impacts and damages of sexual abuse on children in their lifetime,” he continued.

Ivory also emphasized the importance of removing the statute of limitations because on average it takes a victim until age 40 to come forward about sexual abuse. Current law only allows a civil action to be filed until age 22.

Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake, revealed that he is a survivor of child sexual abuse, and was abused by another student in school.

“Child sexual abuse casts a long shadow. It takes a long time to come to grips with,” Briscoe said. He added that he knows teachers that are in jail for child sexual abuse, and advocated for better teacher training to help avoid potential abuse situations.

Sexual abuse by Utah teachers has been brought to the forefront again this year by the case of Brianne Altice, who is accused of having sex with three of her students.

“This is where it all started,” Briscoe said, holding up his cell phone. “Boundary violations… we don’t prepare teachers very well for that first interesting tweet or email message they get from a student,” he continued.

Both bills passed unanimously and will go to the Senate for consideration.

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Categories: Education, Utah Legislature

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