|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:||Contact: Betsy Lynch|
|Wednesday, March 25, 2015||(404) 656-3996|
Rep. Jason Spencer Responds to Statement from Georgia Chamber
ATLANTA— State Representative Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) today issued the following response to a statement recently released by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, with regards to House Bill 17, the Hidden Predator Act:
“The statement issued by The Georgia Chamber’s stating that they believed applying a “willful misconduct” standard of negligence would be a reasonable protection for entities is a significant departure from current case law in Georgia. According to the nation’s leading expert on statute of limitations reform, Professor Marci Hamilton, “The Chamber is saying, where an organization knew or should have known they were harboring a pedophile, they are off the hook. That will keep Georgia in the worst state category and a magnet for child sex trafficking.” The Chamber of Commerce did make an attempt to amend the bill in committee offered by Majority Leader Bill Cowsert (R-Athens), but the amendment failed to pass. The Chamber’s amendment failed because of the committee members’ dedication to passing a well-rounded piece of legislation. Georgia case law requires that an entity be held liable for negligent acts when they “knew or should have known” that a risk to harm others is reasonably foreseeable (Munroe v. Universal Health Services,Inc. 2004). I believe The Chamber inadvertently supported a standard of “willful misconduct” that would have made the bill “predator friendly” and effectively placed a burden of proof on survivors of childhood sexual abuse that does not exist in any other state. This would essentially provide immunity to businesses and organizations that have knowingly covered up abuse.
“There was courageous and compelling testimony from many survivors throughout the committee process. Also in favor of the bill, Mike Griffin, speaking on behalf of the Georgia Baptist Convention, who testified to the organizations overwhelming support and commended all involved for working to protect children. It is my hope that the leadership demonstrated by the Georgia Baptist Convention will encourage other religious organizations and non-profits in Georgia to join our efforts in ensuring justice for all Georgians.
“The failure of the Chamber’s amendment and the passage of the bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee was a victory for child rape victims in Georgia. I was honored to be of service and witness our government working for the people.”
For more information on HB 17, please click here.
Representative Jason Spencer represents the citizens of District 180, which includes Camden, Charlton, and Ware counties. He was elected into the House of Representatives in 2010, and currently serves as the Secretary of the Special Rules Committee. He also serves on the Game Fish & Parks, Human Relations & Aging, and Juvenile Justice committees.