Governor signs new child sex abuse law
April 14, 2008 04:22 PM EDT
By David McArthur
LOUISVILLE (WAVE) -- Kentucky kids have new protections against child predators. House Bill 211 was signed into law by Gov. Steve Beshear Monday.
Rev. Joseph Fowler, a Catholic priest for 47 years, applauded the change.
"Today I witness an extra ordinary event. The signing by my Governor of legislation to protect our children from sexual predators," Fowler said.
The new law makes sex abuse of a child up to 16 years old, a felony. It extends to 18 if the abuser is an authority figure, like a teacher or pastor.
"I'm glad it passed," said John Scott.
That's what Scott faced in the 1950's when he was abused by a priest at St. Edward in Louisville. He was one of the more than 240 plaintiffs from the Louisville Archdiocese $25-million settlement.
"I hope it never happens to another kid. If it does, don't hold it. Talk about it. You didn't do anything wrong. They did it to you. So talk about it," Scott said.
The new law will also give young victims more time to report the crime. Currently, any victim over the age of 12 has one year to report the abuse. This new law gives them 5 years to report it after they turn 18.
The legislation was sponsored by Louisville Representative Jim Wayne (D- House Dist. 35).
"What this does is put Kentucky on the records as saying we're not going to tolerate this," said Wayne. He said his father was abused by a priest in the 1930's.
The changes to the law take effect July 1st.
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