Senator Lauren Arthur Files Legislation to Help Catch Predators and Achieve Justice for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Senator Arthur says organizations that cover up abuse must be held accountable
Jefferson City – State Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, filed two pieces of legislation to help survivors of childhood sexual abuse seek justice through civil action, while strengthening the attorney general’s ability to investigate cases of sex trafficking and abuse.
“In Missouri, no one should be above the law,” Sen. Arthur said. “When an organization knowingly ignores or hides child sex abuse, they must be held accountable. Together, these bills will help survivors seek justice while also strengthening the criminal prosecution of abusers. I look forward to working with my colleagues to address the scourge of child sexual abuse in Missouri, and to help heal wounds that have been ignored for too long.”
Senate Bill 1084 allows for civil lawsuits against organizations for negligence regarding the sexual abuse of children. This legislation allows an organization to be held accountable for civil damages if that organization failed to supervise the perpetrator, concealed the abuse or failed to report it. The civil action for recovery of damages could be brought against the organization under the same time period defined in existing law: within 10 years after the victim reached the age of 21 or within three years of when the victim discovered that the injury or illness was caused by childhood sexual abuse, whichever is later.
Senate Bill 1083 provides the Missouri attorney general the authority to investigate cases of sex trafficking and abuse that occur across multiple counties. This legislation also empowers local prosecutors to request assistance from the attorney general to provide more investigative resources and personnel. Additionally, this bill would create the Abuse of Children and Vulnerable Adults Division within the office of the attorney general to focus on stopping, investigating and prosecuting these heinous crimes.
The bills gained traction after the release of Netflix’s “Procession,” which highlights survivors of child sexual abuse by members of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. In 2018, survivors called on the Missouri attorney general to conduct a statewide investigation into sexual abuse in the church, as had been done successfully in Pennsylvania. However, under existing Missouri law, the attorney general cannot conduct a statewide investigation of that scale regarding child sexual abuse.
Survivors have long called for changes to Missouri law to help them achieve justice.
“I was fed to a predator from the beginning because my perpetrator was a known pedophile who was moved from place to place by his superiors to avoid accountability. I cannot believe there even has to be a discussion about creating laws so that perpetrators and those who hid them are held responsible,” said abuse survivor Joe Eldred. “Please take the important step of protecting children from predators and traffickers by passing this important bill. This is the right thing to do.”
To learn more about Sen. Arthur’s legislative agenda, please visit www.senate.mo.gov/arthur.