Raleigh, N.C., Mar 8, 2019 / 10:59 am
A proposed bill in North Carolina would allow more time for victims of child abuse to pursue both criminal and civil action against their abuser.
The bill, called the SAFE Child Act, has gained bipartisan support in the state legislature.
Attorney General Josh Stein (D) unveiled the legislation on March 7, saying “Our first job as parents and as a state is to keep our kids safe.”
Stein said the bill “will increase enforcement tools to make sure abuse is reported and prosecuted – which will allow more victims to see justice and put more abusers behind bars.”
The legislation would extend the statute of limitations for misdemeanor child abuse from its current two years to 10 years. It would allow victims of child abuse to pursue a civil lawsuit against the abuser until age 50, rather than the current limit of age 21.
In addition, the bill would ban high-risk sex offenders from contacting minors on social media.
It would enable prosecutors to convene investigative grand juries to examine child abuse claims, utilizing tools such as questioning witnesses under oath, compelling sworn testimony from witnesses, and subpoenaing records. Currently, investigative grand juries can only be convened in drug trafficking and human trafficking cases.
It would also require “any person or organization to report all reasonably suspected child abuse,” expanding current mandatory reporting rules, which only cover cases in which an abuser “is in a parental role and in a residential setting,” according to a fact sheet released by the state attorney general.