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E21003064BFA7280872583990072DC82 Hearing Summary


Date Feb 6, 2019      
Location SCR 352

SB19-049 - Amended, referred to the Committee of the Whole

01:54:37 PM  

Senator Fields, bill sponsor, explained SB19-049, concerning increasing the statute of limitations for certain failure to report child sexual abuse crimes.  She distributed handouts about the bill (Attachments C and D).  She discussed the ways in which the bill would be beneficial to children. She provided examples of teachers and other school administrators failing to report sexual abuse crimes, as mandated by state law. 

02:09:19 PM  

Tristan Gorman, representing the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, spoke in opposition to the bill.  She discussed the purposes of statutes of limitations and the associated problems of extending one and not others.  She warned of the bill setting a dangerous precedent and answered questions from the committee about the problems of finding a defendant's alibis and calendars after a certain amount of time has passed. 



02:17:10 PM  

George Brauchler, District Attorney from the 18th Judicial District, spoke in favor of the bill.  He discussed when statutes of limitations start running and mandatory reporting.  He answered questions from the committee.

02:23:22 PM  

Beth McCann, Denver District Attorney, spoke in support of the bill.  She discussed the need for the bill and the mandatory reporting process generally.  She provided an example of a case in Denver where school administration did not report a sexual assault involving two students, and by the time it became public knowledge, the statute of limitations ran out. Ms. McCann did not anticipate a lot of these types of cases, but reiterated that an extended period of time will give law enforcement a better chance to investigate.  

02:36:01 PM  

Ms. McCann discussed a training program about mandatory reporting for school officials conducted by her office and answered questions about it.  Committee members discussed the chain of command at schools and confusion surrounding mandatory reporting.  Questions were raised if the five year statute of limitations, as proposed in the bill, is long enough. 

02:57:53 PM  

Committee members asked questions about the number of mandatory reports filed each year, the number of cases that result in a charge, and the number specifically made for failure to report. 

03:01:21 PM  

Christian Champagne, District Attorney for the 6th Judicial District, appeared before the committee for questions only. 

03:02:45 PM  

Amanda Gall, representing CDAC, testified in support of the bill.   She provided statistics about the number of reports made each year and explained that failure to report constitutes a small amount of them.   She noted that most of the failure to report cases are in a school setting.  Committee members asked questions about tying the statute of limitations to the underlying crime.  Ms. Gall emphasized that the purpose of the bill is to protect children and ensure that complaints are reported and investigated. 

03:19:03 PM  

Stephanie Villafuerte, Child Protection Ombudsman, spoke in favor of the bill.  She discussed the importance of the bill, accountability, and creating awareness.  She explained a research project her office is working on documenting the number of calls the Department of Human Services receives.  She answered questions from the committee about the five year statute of limitations, as proposed in the bill, and the elements of the crime that need to be proven for failure to report.  

03:30:10 PM  

Diana Goldberg, representing SungateKids, testified in favor of the bill.  She emphasized that the bill shows that mandatory reporting is taken seriously.   She discussed how some schools make it confusing for teachers to report. 

03:37:45 PM  

David Beller, representing himself as an attorney, testified in opposition to the bill.  He stated that he represents the principal of Prairie Middle School, where a failure to report sex assault charge was levied against school administrators.  He discussed that statute of limitations are designed to preserve evidence. 

The committee recessed. 

The committee was called back to order and testimony resumed with Mr. Beller.  He answered questions from the committee. 

04:02:38 PM  

Paul Quinn, representing Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, spoke in favor of the bill.  He discussed the difficulties children may have in telling an adult about an abusive situation.

04:09:26 PM  

Jeb Barrett, represenring Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, spoke in favor of the bill and distributed a copy of his testimony (Attachment E).

04:16:40 PM  

Ray Harlin, representing Colorado Victims for Justice, testified in favor of the bill.  He emphasized that the bill gives a child time to develop the  courage to report. 

04:23:56 PM  

Sterling Harris, representing Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, spoke in support of the bill.  She discussed how easy it is for mandatory reporters to make a report. 

The committee recessed. 

04:26:43 PM  

The committee was called back to order. 

Senator Gardner presented and explained Amendment L. 005 (Attachment F).  The amendment broadens what a mandatory reporter should witness or document to lawfully report a sexual crime.   It also lowers the statute of limitations from five years to three years. 

Senator Fields expressed concerns about subjectivity and worried that language in the amendment put too much burden on the mandatory reporter. 

04:37:29 PM
Motion Adopt amendment L.005
Moved Gardner
YES: 0   NO: 0   EXC: 0   ABS:  0   FINAL ACTION:  Pass Without Objection
04:37:29 PM  

Senator Rodriguez presented and explained Amendment L. 004 (Attachment G).  Committee members discussed the amendment.  Amanda Gall, CDAC, returned to the table and expressed concerns about the amendment.  She emphasized that the amendment makes an unnecessary carve-out for schools.  She also stressed that the law targets willful actors, not those with a misunderstanding of mandatory reporting requirements.   

04:56:36 PM  

Further discussion ensued about the amendment, exceptions, cause of action, and communication with schools.   

05:04:30 PM
Motion Adopt amendment L.004
Moved Rodriguez
Cooke No
Gardner No
Rodriguez Yes
Gonzales No
Lee No
YES: 1   NO: 4   EXC: 0   ABS:  0   FINAL ACTION:  FAIL

05:08:09 PM
Motion Refer Senate Bill 19-049, as amended, to the Committee of the Whole.
Moved Lee
Cooke Yes
Gardner Yes
Rodriguez Yes
Gonzales Yes
Lee Yes
Final YES: 5   NO: 0   EXC: 0   ABS:  0   FINAL ACTION:  PASS

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