PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Last year, Arizona lawmakers extended the statute of limitations for people who were sexually abused as children to come forward to seek justice.

And now that window for legal action is coming up on a fast-approaching deadline of Dec. 30. In Arizona, child sex abuse survivors now have less than two weeks to file a claim against their abuser or the institutions that gave them access to children.

Abused in Boy Scouts: Deadline to file claims before bankruptcy approaching

Whether you were abused by a family member or someone in Boy Scouts, the Catholic Church or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is really the last call for adult survivors who are ready to say "me too" in the fight to find at least some accountability.

David Bradley

"There's the confusion, the shame of, 'What did I do? How did I cause this to happen?" Bradley said.

Outgoing state Senate Minority Leader David Bradley has been a licensed professional counselor for 40 years.

"I've been doing a lot of telecounseling since the virus started. The demand right now is through the roof," Bradley said.

He says isolation and stress from the pandemic has a lot of sex abuse survivors seeking help.

"There is long-standing abuse from their childhood that still affects their behaviors," Bradley said.

He can relate. He was 13 when he left home to go to Regina Cleri Catholic Seminary down in Tucson, where he says he was groomed by an older student and sexually abused for more than a year. He never told anyone about the abuse at the time.

"No, never told a soul," Bradley said.

In fact, he says his speech on the Senate floor in May 2019 was the first time he ever really talked about it.

Bradley speech

Bradley said his speech on the Senate floor in May 2019 was the first time he ever really talked about it.

"This poison of abuse is pervasive," he told his Senate colleagues in that speech, some 50 years after his abuse.

"Whether simply by good fortune or calling upon other resources instilled in me by others, I kept my ship afloat. I found a way. While the past put storms in my way, I am one of the fortunate ones. My ship never capsized," he said.

He spoke out to take a stand, supporting the Republican-sponsored law to extend the statute of limitations for sex abuse survivors who were barred from civil lawsuits because too much time had passed. National studies show the average age for victims to disclose child sex abuse is 52 years old.

ABUSED IN SCOUTING: Arizona survivors face new deadline to seek justice

Attorney Tim Kosnoff represents more than 260 Arizona survivors who've come forward since that legal window opened in 2019.

"What started as a trickle is now beginning to flood in," Kosnoff said.

Most of those clients are part of the 95,000 abuse victims now suing the Boy Scouts, an institution that kept decades of secret files on pedophiles in their ranks without warning families or alerting police.

Boy Scouts of America

Kosnoff said Boy Scouts of America has been running down their assets after filing for bankruptcy, with million-dollar executive salaries and Cadillac pension plans.

"They thought these were acceptable losses. So they denied, they covered up. They concealed, they engaged in crimes, reckless endangerment, failure to report under mandatory reporting laws and this went on for generations," Kosnoff said.

Adding insult to injury, he says Boy Scouts of America has been running down their assets after filing for bankruptcy, with million-dollar executive salaries and Cadillac pension plans.

"It's felonious. It's a crime. It should have been stopped," Kosnoff said.

Survivors of child sex assault given more time to sue

He says there is still standing to go after the local councils and institutions like the Mormon church that not only sponsored most troops but picked the leaders to run them. Accountability is the big thing driving most survivors to finally open up.

"Coming to terms with this horror, getting the poison of it out of their system, or at least beginning to. But to keep it inside, or to remain silent, it's, it's deadly," Kosnoff said.

"There's the confusion, the shame of, 'What did I do? How did I cause this to happen?" Bradley said.

Tim Kosnoff

"But to keep it inside, or to remain silent, it's, it's deadly," Kosnoff said.

He saw the secret drive others to suicide or prison. And while nothing can erase what happened, he says speaking your truth can help you find more peace.

"Justice means making something right," he said, as in something right with yourself, which he says is the most important thing.

Again, the deadline to file a claim in court is Dec. 30.

Nicole Crites anchors 3TV's Good Evening Arizona weekdays. Nicole also digs deep into issues affecting Arizonans.  You'll see her reports on 3TV News at 9 p.m.
 
 

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