Posts tagged: child rape
OLYMPIA — Sex crimes involving minors could be prosecuted until the victim turns 30 under a bill that passed unanimously this morning in the House of Representatives.
HB 1352 mirrors a bill that passed last week in the and seeks to expand the statute of limitations to allow prosecutions after a victim becomes an adult and is better able to report the crime.
Current law says that first- and second-degree child rape involving a victime 14 or under can be prosecuted until the victim reaches 28 but only if it is reported in the first year. Cases involving a victim between 14 and 18 can be prosecuted for 10 years if it is reported within a year.
Minor differences in the two bills will have to be worked out by the two chambers.
But victims of sexual abuse and their families told a Senate panel that doesn’t go far enough. There should be no statute of limitations on child sexual assault, just as there is no such limit on murder and some other homicide crimes.
A woman who told the Senate Law and Justice Committee she was sexually abused starting around age 12 said many young victims need time to process what has happened to them. They may not be able to do that until they are adults.
“Everybody deserves a chance to be heard,” the woman who identified herself as Shelly said. . .
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OLYMPIA – Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin was among victims of child sexual abuse urging the Legislature Wednesday to drop the statute of limitations that they say shields pedophiles from justice.
“It took me years to be able to call what happened to me between age 10 and 18 rape,” said McLaughlin, who told members of the House Public Safety Committee about years of sexual abuse by her father. “You shouldn’t lose the ability to bring about justice just because some years have elapsed.”
Michael Ross of Spokane, the founder of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said some victims of child sexual abuse don’t come to grips with what happened to them until they are in their 40s or 50s. Current law that requires a victim of a child rape to report before turning 29 protects pedophiles, said Ross who told the committee he was abused by a Catholic priest in his teens but repressed that memory until he was 47.
McLaughlin and Ross were among supporters of House Bill 1657, a proposal by Rep. John Ahern, R-Spokane, to lift the statute of limitations for any rape of a minor by an adult. In a sometimes emotional hearing, they and other victims recounted their histories of sexual abuse that they acknowledge the bill can’t help because the law can’t be made retroactive.
It would, however, tell pedophiles from that point on “they could never escape justice”, said Virginia Graham of Spokane, who said she was sexually abused starting at age 10 and her father threatened to kill her if she reported him.
But Lonnie Johns-Brown of the Washington Coalition on Sexual Assault said she was ambivalent about the proposal because it might not have much effect. Rape convictions are difficult even when cases are prosecuted quickly and have hard evidence, she said.
McLaughlin said after the hearing it was the first time she had talked about being sexually abused in such a public setting. She sometimes speaks at victim support groups or other small gatherings. She agreed to testify for the bill because “I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Her faith has allowed her to move on, she said, but the fact that her father was never held accountable still weighs heavily on her family.