Legislation Would Eliminate Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Cases

Compared to other U.S. states, Utah is a pretty good place for a child sexual predator. And Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, wants to change that.

Ivory will have two bills aimed at allowing anyone abused as a child to punish the criminal, no matter how long it takes.

HB277 would remove from state law the statute of limitations in a civil action for child sexual abuse.

In theory, a woman abused as a child, who is now 50 years old, could sue her abuser, even if he is 75 years old.

And Ivory has a bill now being drafted – not yet filed – that would increase the age for criminal action/no statute of limitation, from 14 years old to 18 years old for the victim whose attacker is a person of trust, like a school teacher.

For a civil action, current law says the victim has four years to bring the complaint after 18 years – so for a young child that could mean a civil action must be brought while the victim is in her 20s.

That is not long enough, says Ivory, as the psychological damage to the victim could take much longer for her to be able to discuss the abuse and seek a remedy in the courts.

“The trauma on a child of sexual abuse is a life sentence,” said Ivory, an attorney in private life. “And for the criminal who does this there should be no statute of limitations, either.”

A life sentence of being exposed to the law, he adds.

A study of child sex offense statute of limitations laws puts Utah in the “bad” category among all the state, with only five states being worse that Utah.

You can see the chart here.

“No criminals like this should be able to hide behind the passage of time,” said Ivory.

HB 277 Chart by UtahPolicy