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Arthur files legislation to help child sex abuse survivors seek justice

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Sen. Lauren Arthur filed a pair of bills this week she said would aid survivors of child sexual abuse

One bill would give the attorney general authority to provide more assistance if crimes occur across county lines involving the sexual abuse or exploitation of a child. A prosecuting attorney can request the attorney general’s help, and the attorney general will be able to request a grand jury examination. 

“We know there are small counties with pretty limited resources, and they’re not guaranteed to have any experts on the subject of child sex abuse,” Arthur said. 

Additionally, SB 1083 creates the Abuse of Children and Vulnerable Adults Division within the Attorney General’s Office to specifically investigate and cut down these crimes. 

Arthur, a Clay County Democrat, also filed SB 1084 this week which would allow a survivor to sue someone who was not the perpetrator of the abuse but aided the perpetrator in some way through wrongful conduct, neglect, training, failure to report, and more. 

The bill would allow a civil action to be brought within 10 years after a victim turned 21 or within three years of whenever the victim discovered the injury brought by the abuse. 

“It’s something that should cross party lines. We all have an interest in protecting vulnerable Missourians,” Arthur said in an interview. 

She also said: “In Missouri, no one should be above the law. When an organization knowingly ignores or hides child sex abuse, they must be held accountable. Together, these bills will help survivors seek justice while also strengthening the criminal prosecution of abusers.”

Arthur said she was motivated to file this legislation after she worked with survivors and attorneys highlighted in Netflix’s 2021 documentary “Procession” which featured victims of child sexual abuse within the Catholic church in the Kansas City and St. Joseph areas. 

“I was fed to a predator from the beginning because my perpetrator was a known pedophile who was moved from place to place by his superiors to avoid accountability,” said survivor Joe Eldred. “I cannot believe there even has to be a discussion about creating laws so that perpetrators and those who hid them are held responsible.” 

Both bills were first read on Monday. She said her office has a meeting with the Attorney General’s Office about her legislation later this week.