- April 1, 2021
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Sexual Assault & Trafficking
Two important bills in Georgia’s fight against sex trafficking passed the State Senate on March 8th, the General Assembly’s crossover day. These bills will now advance to the House for further debate, and could well become law in the near future. The first, Senate Bill 33, explicitly protects sex trafficking survivors’ right to sue their traffickers for monetary compensation, plus legal costs.
Under Bill 33, survivors would have until 10 years after the trafficking incident in question, or 10 years after their 18th birthday, whichever is later, to file a suit. These civil suits would be kept on hold until after any criminal proceedings for the same incidents, but this delay would not count as part of the 10-year time limit or negatively affect the survivor’s right to compensation.
This could be a major boon for sex trafficking survivors who are searching for justice and a new life on their own terms, as well as a huge step toward eliminating sex trafficking as a profitable criminal enterprise in Georgia.
The Passage of Senate Bill 33 Would Close Loopholes Protecting the Sex Trafficking Industry
The text of Bill 33 defines a perpetrator of sex trafficking as “a person or entity that knowingly benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participation in a venture or scheme which such person or entity knew or should have known involved a violation of Code Section 16-5-46.”
This includes not only the individuals easily associated with the words “sex trafficker” — the kidnappers, recruiters, and pimps — but also customers, hotel owners and employees, advertising platforms, transportation providers, stylists, and anyone else who knowingly accepts business, bribes, or anything else from a sex trafficker.
The bill also specifically repeals all conflicting laws, which would include pre-existing loopholes protecting any of these groups. This should help incentivize individuals and businesses alike to report suspected sex trafficking, instead of ignoring or collaborating with it.
Survivors will be able to sue any or all complicit parties, so they’ll have more options than ever when it comes time to choose a guilty defendant who can afford to pay for a worthwhile settlement.
The Accompanying Bill 34 Would Also Protect Survivor Anonymity
Bill 34 allows sex trafficking survivors to petition to change their names without the change being announced publicly, as is usually required. Victims of family violence can already make this petition for a private name change, and many sex trafficking survivors have just as great a need for anonymity.
Both bills are expected to receive bipartisan support in the House. When speaking of his support for Bill 34, State Senator Clint Dixon brought up a past incident where he believes the availability of a private name change might have given a survivor in his district the safety she needed to move on here in Georgia. Instead, she and her family had to combine a name change with moving out of state.
The Stoddard Firm Can Help You Get the Best Possible Settlement
Hopefully, both Bill 33 and Bill 34 will soon be part of Georgia law. While this will be extremely helpful for all those fighting to end or recover from sex trafficking, there’s no need to wait before filing a civil suit. Regardless of whether these bills pass, a quick response means better chances of success, and The Stoddard Firm is here to help you get the compensation you deserve. We’ll strategize with you on how to get the best possible settlement, bring your abusers to justice, and protect your privacy in the process. To learn more, give us a call any time.