State Senate OKs childhood sex assault bill

PHOENIX (FOX 10/AP) -- The Arizona Senate has approved legislation increasing the amount of time that childhood sex assault victims can sue their alleged attackers.

The proposal had deadlocked the Legislature for weeks and prevented action on a state budget. A compromise finally reached over the weekend led the way for Monday's 29-0 vote.

The measure now heading to the House give victims until age 30 to sue instead of age 20. It also opens a "window" for people currently barred from suing to file until December 2020 but increases the standard of proof they must have.

"We had to do something, and it couldn't be something in, quote, name only," said State Sen. Heather Carter. "But know this, Arizona is no longer the dark corner where you can hide a pedophile. With this bill, we are bringing victims out of the shadows, and giving them their voice in the justice system."

State Sen. Carter, a Republican, says she has been threatened for her refusal not to back a budget until the bill passed.

GOP Sen. Eddie Farnsworth had opposed the measure over concerns innocent people could be accused decades after an alleged incident. He says no one wants to protect child abusers and that the compromise protects both sides.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.