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As victims of child sexual abuse celebrated in the gallery, the Senate passed two bills Wednesday that target those who sexually abuse children.
Senators passed HB277 24-2. It seeks to expand the statute of limitations for filing civil claims against sexual abusers of children. It now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.
The Senate also approved 23-0 HB345, aimed at banning anyone ever convicted of a felony involving child abuse from receiving a license to teach children in schools. Because it was amended, it returns to the House for more consideration.
Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, who last year revealed that he was a victim of sexual abuse as a child, said current law allows a victim to file civil suits against their abusers only up to age 22. He said many victims are age 40 or older before they come to grips with the crime, and he was in his 30s before he did.
The bill allows filing civil suits for damages up to four years after the victim "discovers sexual abuse."
"We would no longer be protecting the predators who committed these crimes in civil court," Osmond said.
He added the other bill is also needed because some felons convicted of child abuse were able later to obtain licenses to teach. Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, said in earlier debate that a teacher who abused his wife as a child was able to do that.
Deondra Brown, a member the 5 Browns classical piano quintet, who was molested by her father as a child, was among a crowd of victims who cheered passage of the bills.
"It is such a great day. It is something that so many victims have hoped for for so long," she said.
"It's amazing to see the day where victims can thoroughly feel like we have the control to heal when we are ready, and prosecute when the time comes, and not feel like we are restricted by the laws of the land," she said. "I feel like I am jumping up and down inside."
Brown is a co-founder of the nonprofit Foundation for Survivors of Abuse.
In 2010, she and other sibling members of the 5 Browns performing group sought criminal charges against their father, who had also been their professional manager.
In March 2011, Keith Brown was sentenced to serve 10 years to life for sexually abusing his daughters when they were children.
Osmond said in debate that one of every six boys and one of every four girls will be sexually abused in their lifetime.