PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery opposed a bill at the Legislature that stands up for victims of childhood sexual assault, according to a state lawmaker who wrote the proposal.
Montgomery, a self-described victims advocate, denies taking a position on SB 1101 and said he only provided information on the issue.
Yet, the day before the measure was scheduled for a vote this month, Montgomery fired off a string of text messages to the bill's sponsor, Sen. Paul Boyer, a Republican from Phoenix.
Boyer says he interpreted the messages as an effort by Montgomery to water down the heart of his legislative proposal.
That provision allows victims of childhood sexual assault one year to sue their abuser in civil court after disclosing their abuse. This is even if the crime took place decades ago.
Under current law, young victims are barred from suing after they turn 20 years old.
Boyer says that is not enough time, adding that some victims may need decades before they are ready to come forward.
Part of the proposal extended the time to sue to 30 years.
Boyer said that still is not enough time for some victims who may need decades before they are ready to come forward.
For that reason, he says the one-year look back window is essential.
"The only way to stop current sexual abusers is by allowing adults who have processed the emotional trauma to say 'so-and-so raped me and he's still around children,'" he said.
In one text message sent to Boyer, Montgomery said, in part, "Why not just go with the extension cut off?"
Boyer replied by telling Montgomery that extending the cutoff does little to help victims and stop predators without the one-year window.
Still, Montgomery pressed on.
"Current predators, Paul, are in a very different cultural context. Victims are in a very different context, too. I thought we had a good discussion on this? Can I get you more info? I do not doubt your sincerity and i trust you don't doubt mine," Montgomery said.
Based on the messages Boyer says the county attorney sent a clear signal.
"I don't think that he supports a window," Boyer said, "That’s what I got from the text messages."
The bill eventually died after lawmakers decided not to hold a vote.
Montgomery says he had little to do with influencing the outcome of the bill, and that it was not a priority.
"You've got me talking to one legislator who's a friend of mine, and that I've had these conversations with over three years or two years," he said. "And you have one set of texts. Where's the lobbying," he said.
When asked if he supported giving victims one year to sue their abusers, he said, "not my bill."