A task force created by Gov. Doug Ducey that aims to look into cases of childhood sexual abuse and help guide lawmakers on possible changes to state law that aid victims in Arizona will be begining its work next month.
The Justice for Victims of Child Sex Abuse Task Force will be a statewide effort to examine cases and look into existing data on childhood sexual assault.
Ducey announced the task force in May during a ceremonial signing of a new law to expand the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue their abusers or the organizations that protected them.
Ducey was flanked by Republican Sens. Paul Boyer and Heather Carter. Boyer championed the issue throughout the previous session, and he and Carter forced the legislature to take up the issue by withholding their votes on the state budget.
The task force will likely begin its work in September, Boyer told the Arizona Mirror.
It will consist of four state senators, four representatives, representatives from the victim community, representatives from the Ducey’s office, representatives from law enforcement and a representative from the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family, Boyer said.
“The thought is that we are going to deliver some kind of report or findings in December for potential legislation in the spring,” Boyer said.
During a panel discussion Monday about the legislation that sparked the task force, Carter and Boyer said that the duo has met with Ducey to discuss next steps, which includes waiting on the Gov. to appoint the 22 members of the task force.
Despite the task force not being fully operational yet, both Boyer and Carter said they are anxious to get started, and already have avenues they’d like to investigate for possible legislation.
One of the key things that Boyer, Carter, advocates and others spoke about Monday was the need for prevention training, something that both senators have expressed wanting to pursue in the upcoming session.
Currently, 26 states, including Guam, have enacted some form of legislation that requires the state to either study or develop age-appropriate child sexual abuse prevention and identification classes for pre-k through 12th grade in order to educate both students and teachers about the signs of child sexual abuse.
Arizona is not one of those states.
“There is now a level of awareness that exists that didn’t exist 365 days ago,” Carter said, adding that she intends to use that momentum to gain traction not just with the task force, but with other legislative priorities such as preventative training and finding money for child sex abuse cold cases.