WOODBINE — Critics of the Hidden Predator Act predicted an onslaught of frivolous civil suits leading to needless witch hunts when the legislation was approved two years ago.
The legislation’s sponsor, state Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, said only six lawsuits have been filed since the legislation was enacted, and he’s not surprised.
“People who have misconceptions about this issue believe an avalanche of litigation would result from a law that would extend or remove the statute of limitations,” he said. “I have obviously proven that not to be the case with this law being on the books for the last two years. The inherent nature of these cases can be difficult, and they are by no means slam dunk court cases.”
Now, Spencer plans to introduce new legislation designed to strengthen the Hidden Predator Act because he believes many child sexual predators are escaping prosecution.
The forthcoming bill, known as the Hidden Predator Act of 2018, will include an extension of the current statute of limitations for civil claims arising from childhood sexual abuse.
“The purpose of the changes is to strengthen provisions of the current law to hold child sexual predators accountable for their actions who have escaped criminal investigations for various reasons,” he said.
The amended legislation will also include a new provision targeting those engaging in human sex trafficking.
“The thrust of the bill is to identify hidden child sexual predators, root out sex traffickers and complement existing criminal laws with meaningful civil remedies that will provide justice to victims and undermine the sex slave industry significantly in Georgia,” he said.
So far, Spencer said the fact that none of the civil cases filed using the Hidden Predator Act have been resolved illustrates the challenges of suing an alleged sexual predator for damages.
“That just goes to show you how difficult these cases are when they begin,” he said.