A special committee wants to revamp Arizona’s sex abuse laws to make it easier to prosecute some people who violate their position of trust with their youthful victims.
But members of the Justice for Victims of Child Sex Abuse Tax Force stopped short of recommending that those who were victims of child sex abuse get more time to sue their assailants.
The committee concluded that the definition of who is in a “position of trust’’ is too narrow.
That definition can be important in cases when the victim was 15 through 17 years of age. If the alleged assailant was in a position of trust, then prosecutors need not prove that the victim did not consent.
Right now, the list ranges from parents, teachers, coaches, clergymen to those who are in a relationship with the minor’s parent. The proposal would expand that list to any relatives by blood or marriage to the third degree, with the exception of siblings.
Also added would-be employers and bosses, adults that live in the same house, and any person at least 10 years older than the minor who has a relationship with the minor or the minor’s family.
It also would add all school employees to the list – and not just teachers or educators. And youth pastors would joint clergy and priests as those in trust.
Gov. Doug Ducey set up the task force and proposed recommendations the same day he signed legislation to give those who were sexually assaulted or abused as children more time to sue, no matter how long ago the event occurred.
That new law scrapped existing statutes requiring victims to sue before their 20th birthday or forfeit their legal rights. Now they will have until age 30.
That is far less than originally sought by Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Phoenix, who also was co-chair of the task force. But it was the best deal he could get through the Legislature -- at that time.
One of the elements of the legislation approved earlier this year opened up a temporary legal “window’’ for lawsuit by those whose time to file suit already had expired. They will have until the end of 2020 to bring their claims, no matter how many years ago the incidents occurred.
The task force is recommending that courts monitor those cases, using what it learns to analyze the evidence about delayed disclosure to make recommendations for what would be an appropriate age for a statute of limitations.
One recommendation deals with how teachers communicate with students.
The task force is recommending that the state Board of Education come up with some guidelines on not just social media but also cell phone use between students and teachers.
The report also includes a proposal to place special conditions on those convicted of sex trafficking crimes when they are placed on probation.
That, task force members said, could include curfews, staying away from school grounds unless registered as a student there, not going to a hotel without prior written approval of a probation officer and successfully completed domestic violence counseling.