Three Utah Lawmakers Step Forward As Victims Amid Sex Abuse Debate

Utah state Senators on Tuesday debated a bill to develop child sexual abuse prevention programs for schools. During that debate, three of them publicly acknowledged that they had been sexually assaulted as children.

“I was attacked by a man I did not know,” state Sen. Daniel Thatcher (R) said, according to KSTU. Thatcher was in tears as he described being attacked while walking to school when he seven years old.

The debate took place after state Sen. Margaret Dayton (R) made an amendment to the bill which would have had parents “opt-in” to have their children take part in the abuse prevention programs. The bill was written with a provision letting parents “opt-out” of the programs. State Sen. Aaron Osmond (R) opposed the amendment, and stepped forward to say that he had been abused by a non-family member when he was a child. He argued that his parents would not have “opted in” to the programs.

“For me, this is about child safety,” Osmond said.

A third lawmaker, state Sen. Todd Weiler (R), spoke about a Boy Scout leader who had “inappropriate contact with him,” according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

“This is happening, and statistically, Aaron and I are not the only members of this body who had that experience as a child,” Thatcher said, according to the Tribune. “This is happening and if we do not act, it will continue to happen.”

Several Senators voiced concerns about the bill, according to the news outlets.

“The assumption the state automatically must protect children from their parents is disturbing to me,” state Sen. Stuart Reid (R) said.

According to the Tribune, the attempt to amend the bill failed narrowly, and the Senate ultimately gave the bill preliminary approval. A final vote could come Wednesday.

(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/Mangoman88)