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Victims of child sex abuse in Georgia face powerful foes
Dick Yarbrough
Marlan Wilbanks is a man on a mission. An Atlanta attorney, Wilbanks is the driving force behind the Wilbanks Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation Clinic, the nation’s first legal clinic dedicated to representing survivors of child sexual abuse. The clinic is a part of the University of Georgia School of Law and gives second- and third-year law students the opportunity to gain experience in the practice of law while serving a crucial need in the community. The impetus for the clinic, a state law known as the Hidden Predator Act, went into effect July 1, 2015, allowing victims of child sexual abuse to file civil suits against perpetrators. So far, so good. But not good enough, Wilbanks says. He is pushing for legislation that would raise the age when victims of child sex abuse in Georgia could file a lawsuit from 23 to 55. The law he envisions would also create a two-year window that would let any victim of child sex abuse to file suit, regardless of when the abuse occurred. Georgia is one of the few states in the country that sets its statute of limitations for child sexual abuse under the age of 23.