February 6, 2019
Denver, CO — Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed SB19-071, Child Hearsay Exemption, a bill – sponsored by Senator Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora) – that would allow statements made by children to be admissible in court when the child is the victim or the statement describes unlawful sexual behavior. The bill unanimously passed committee and heads to the committee of the whole for consideration.
Only 12 percent of child sexual abuse is reported to the authorities, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. By allowing children to report through adults they trust over time rather than single interactions with law enforcement or legal systems, the bill aims to enhance truth-seeking and improve community safety.
“This bill is extremely important for protecting children. It allows a child’s voice to be heard,” said Senator Fields. “What is most important is seeking justice to protect the children from those who have disturbed their innocence. This bill will broaden the scope to let more children be heard, and ultimately allow for victims to share their testimony however they are able to find the courage to do so. We need not let the system get in the way of respecting the words of children who have been exposed to sexual crimes.”
The bill amends the statutory exception to the hearsay rule to expand the admission for out-of-court statements made by children under 13 years old for any criminal or delinquency proceeding in which the child is the victim or in which the child describes all or part of any unlawful sexual behavior.
“This statutory exception allows our legal system to ensure children who are often afraid, ashamed, or confused can receive the support and safety they deserve,” added Senator Fields.
To learn more about SB19-071, please visit https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb19-071.