Verdict - Summer 2015 - (Page 35)

> FEATURE STORY The Hidden Predator Act: How House Bill 17 Will Impact Victims' Rights in Georgia BY LAURIE SPEED, NATALIE WOODWARD & WAYNE CARTWRIGHT S ince 1992, victims of child- unconsciously removes it from the victim's law this year. Now called the "Hidden Predator hood sexual assault have memory. The memories can remain repressed Act," the law which became effective July 1, benefited from a longer for years before surfacing after self introspec- 2015 attempts to provide greater protections statute of limitation than tion or a triggering event. 4 for victims including an extended statute of the standard two years Other psychologists believe that instead of applied to most personal a subconscious coping mechanism, the repres- injury actions. Under the previous applicable sion is actually just normal forgetting. Under The new law continues to allow a victim to statute, O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33.1, minors who had this theory of repression, due to the victim's bring suit until reaching 23, but it also adds a been the victim of sexual abuse could bring prior and often continuing relationship with the "discovery rule" extension. Under subsection suit up to five years after attaining the age of assailant, the victim is not able to fully grasp the (B)(2)(A)(II), a victim may file suit within two majority or until he/she turned 23. While this seriousness of the assault at the time, instead, years of the date that he or she "knew or had added time provided an avenue for redress while viewing it as uncomfortable, painful, and reason to know of such abuse." This extension to some victims who came to terms and wrong, they do not comprehend its traumatic helps those victims whose memories of the understood their abuse in early adulthood, nature.5 However, even these psychologists sexual abuse surface beyond their 23rd birth- it closed the door to those who only came to note that the effects of the abuse on the vic- day. Importantly, this discovery rule extension understand or discover the abuse later in life. tim's self-esteem, relationships, mental health, will only apply to sexual abuse which occurs According to recent studies, one in three substance abuse, and feelings of alienation are after July 1, 2015. Any case being filed under girls and one in six boys are sexually abused no less than the victims who do not initially the discovery extension requires the court before the age of 18. There are estimated repress the attack. Moreover, as psycholo- to make a pre-trial finding within six months to be 60 million survivors of sexual abuse in gists continue to debate the cause and nature after suit is filed of when the abuse was dis- America today.1 In recent years, psychologists of the repression, the key takeaway is that it is covered based on "admissible evidence." have learned that many victims of childhood very common among childhood victims to not The new law also creates a dual standard sexual assault initially repress memories of disclose or understand the effects for many for holding entities such as businesses or the assault and often do not recover those years into adulthood. organizations liable that either owed a duty of 6 limitation and a two year period of revival of previously barred claims. memories until much later in adulthood. 2 Many Despite this well-recognized response care to the victim and/or an entity whom the psychologists believe this initial repression to sexual abuse, Georgia law has prevented abuser worked or volunteered for. If the case is an involuntary unconscious mechanism in victims whose repressed memories surfaced is brought prior to the victim's 23rd birthday, which the brain blocks out painful memories as after their 23rd birthday from seeking justice the third party entity can be held responsible a way of coping with the trauma. 3 Essentially, to even entering the courtroom. In an attempt with a showing of ordinary negligence. But, if facing what happened on a daily basis would address this wrong, a revamped version of the suit is brought under the new discovery be so traumatizing and paralyzing that the brain O.C.G.A. §9-3-33.1 was passed and signed into rule extension, third party entities can only be Summer 2015 35

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Verdict - Summer 2015

President’s Message
GTLA President’s Gala
Trying a Sex Abuse Case Against a Local Church in a Conservative Venue
New Strategies and Interventions to Curtail Discovery Abuses
High-Speed Police Chases and Injured Innocent Bystanders
When One Award is Not Enough
Three Strategies to Fend off a Funding Attack
Recent Updates to Georgia Suggested Pattern Jury Instructions (Civil), July 2013 – Present
The Hidden Predator Act: How House Bill 17 Will Impact Victims’ Rights in Georgia
New Lawyers’ Corner: Trying a Low-Damage Jury Case
Professional Practice Pointers: Updates on E-filing, the Court of Appeals, and a New Traffic Division in DeKalb State
Case Updates: What’s New?
Workers’ Comp Updates
Notes: What’s New with GTLA Members
Welcome New GTLA Members!
Index to Advertisers

Verdict - Summer 2015