Bill to End Statute of Limitations on Child Molestation Gains Momentum in Tallahassee

This week, state Sen. Linda Stewart’s, D-Orlando, proposal to remove the statute of limitations on prosecuting sexual offenses of minors picked up some momentum in Tallahassee.

The state Senate Criminal Justice Committee advanced Stewart’s bill without opposition this week.

“This is an important first step in an effort to guarantee that justice can be served in cases of sexual assault against minors,” said Stewart on Tuesday. “It can often take years for children to share such traumatic experiences, and far too often, their window of opportunity to seek justice has already closed.

“Countless individuals have experienced sexual battery during their childhood, and never had the opportunity to bring the perpetrator to justice because of these short-sighted limitations,”  Stewart added. “Over the years, time limitations have continued to expand for victims, but it is now the time for the legislature to remove them altogether for minors. It’s a common sense piece of legislation on a nonpartisan issue, which we owe to survivors in their pursuit of justice.”

Stewart pushed this proposal in the last legislative session. Her proposal would end a loophole “for minors aged 16 and 17 that currently only have that three year window to report the crime”  and “removes sexual battery reporting time limitations for all persons under the ages 15 – 18.”

When she unveiled the bill, Stewart pointed to the case of Donna Hedrick “who was abused by a teacher and buried her secret for more than 40 years” and to the recent stories about financier and serial sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein.

Stewart has reeled in some key supporters including state Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville. Over in the other chamber, state Reps. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, and state Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, are championing the companion measure.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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