How many times have you stood, hand over heart, and recited our Pledge of Allegiance? The phrase, "with liberty and justice for all" is one of my favorite lines in our beautiful pledge, but for several years, I wondered if victims of child sexual abuse would ever be given such justice.
William E. Gladstone once said, "Justice delayed is justice denied." But this week on the floor of the Utah House, my husband, Rep. Ken Ivory shared the truth, "Justice not delayed is justice denied" when it comes to the Statute of Limitations for victims of sexual abuse.
The average victim of childhood sexual abuse does not come forward until the age of forty. This is due to a number of factors, not the least of which are shame, embarrassment, negative reactions and self-blame. That is why the Utah House of Representatives voted unanimously to support HB277 that allows victims of childhood sexual abuse to press civil charges against their perpetrators at any time, rather than the previous limits of only four years from the time they turned 18 or "discovered" that they had been abused.
Immediately after that vote, they also unanimously voted to pass HB345, sponsored by Rep. Dan McCay, which makes it impossible for someone who has been convicted of, admitted to, or pled down on a charge of felony sexual abuse, to ever have a license to teach in the state of Utah.
For me, this has been a long time in coming, and as I sat on the floor of the House, along with several other survivors of Educator Sexual Abuse, I couldn't believe what I was seeing as the voting board began to turn a beautiful shade of green as the votes began coming in. Honestly, I couldn't help but tear up as I remembered the years of feeling frustrated and helpless after the UPPAC board handed back my abuser's teaching license after only a two year slap on the wrist, without ever even consulting me or my family.
For years, I felt as if I had been told that the abuse I have endured, as well as the years of negative affects, didn't matter to society...that the job of the abuser was more important than my rights or those of our kids...that truth will never win over a very convincing manipulator. But Monday morning, the message was sent loud and clear through the Utah House..."we do not want sexual predators anywhere near our children."
There is a long way to go. We will be presenting to the Senate in the morning. But I believe that education will rule the day. People are anxious to protect our children, they just need to know how.
I'm so grateful for the many lawmakers, survivors and organizations that are working together to fight this fight. It is an honor to be counted among them. And every step we make is one step closer to achieving liberty and justice for all.