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New Efforts To Extend Statutes Of Limitations For Sexual Crimes

Many victims of sexual assault do not immediately report the crime. In the allegations against Bill Cosby, his accusers came forward years later. And in the child sex abuse scandal within the Catholic Church, many victims did not come forward until decades after the fact. For most of these cases, the time to prosecute has run out. Now, a growing number of states are extending the time limits to allow cases to be heard in court. But criminal defense attorneys warn this will lead to innocent people being put behind bars. Diane Rehm talks with a panel of guests about the debate over extending the statutes of limitations for sexual crimes. Radio Program

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  1. Robert Curtis

    My grandmother got pregnant at the age of 15 and later married my grandfather technically that was statutory rape…so by removing the statutes of limitations does that mean my grandfather can be convicted of that statutory rape of my grandmother so long ago?

    • Concerned Citizen

      They can do whatever they want. They won’t come after your grandfather normally but they have applied this retroactively in California and put people in jail for alleged sex crimes that occurred over 10 years ago and the statute of limitations had run out. So they change the laws and make it retroactive in a sweeping net stating it was meant to catch pedophiles but instead it puts men in jail that are accused of sleeping with someone underage of 16 or 17… 10, 20 years ago…. They could extend it to 50 if they felt like it. Today all it takes is to be accused. These laws are unconstitutional made retroactive, ex post facto, but what average person has millions of dollars to mount a defense against this. I am so deeply disturbed by the precedent this is setting in this country. Many innocent people will end up in jail.

      • Anonymous

        The precedent is called the rise of American fascism and is being closely studied.

        • Concerned Citizen

          That’s exactly what someone I know who grew up in Germany during WWII said to me this year. They said that all of the erosion of civil liberties is exactly what went on in Germany during that time. No one cared because Hitler applied it to criminals and “sexual” deviants at first. No one cared until towards the end you couldn’t even travel between cities without traveling permission. We are on a very slippery slope and the blood thirsty zealots will stand stupidly on their lawn, mouths gapping wide, when the cops come and take their freedom away.

        • catch22

          What Niemoller should have said was

          First they came for the sex offenders ,everybody hates sex offenders so I said nothing.

          The sex offenders were branded with a Pink inverted triangle . The Allies liberating the camps would often not release the Triangle inmates .Expost facto ?

      • MS

        The more intelligent species of animals won’t defecate where they sleep. Are our lawmakers smart enough not to pass laws that could put their own @$$e$ in jail? I guarantee you that there are thousands of politicians, members of law enforcement, etc. that had sexual contact with a minor when they were over 18.

        Hey how is this for a polygraph question for those trying to get into law enforcement: “Have you ever had sexual contact with a person under the age of 18?”. For those who have (guessing that will be at least 25%) then find out if they were over 18 when it happen. How about polygraph those in politics and law enforcement already. Ask them if they have ever done something that would be considered a sex offense. Thousands would be guilty. The smart ones would pass on taking the polygraph and simply resign unless they wanted to be ruined and labeled life (horrible sexual deviants, monsters, predators).

        • Frank

          That is a big huge 10-4 MS.
          I had mentioned this exactly in previous threads here.
          Those who create the laws…along with attorneys, judges, Senators, members of the House and officers of the law, need to check their own closets before they condemn us.
          They all have skeletons that they would never want brought out. And many would be RC’s and their lives would be destroyed.

        • Timmr

          Dennis Hastert, 51st Speaker of the House of Representatives, for one. One that was caught.

  2. ab

    Well what a shame. One person among the guests has a fair interest in both sides and its the defense attorney. So many out of context and flimsy statistics from the other three quests I am disturbed by the fact that such erroneous information was allowed to be on the radio under the guise of being factual. Also when people started calling in with their stories about experiencing sexual misconduct the false statements previously made are given unfair and mostly unverified hearsay evidence. One needs only look at the language of illegal sexual activity to see it is weighted against alternative explanations. Moreover by projecting a specific perspective onto a situation it forces those involved to be pigeonholed into roles from which they can’t legally escape. By the nature of being a victim one’s own agency is limited or removed entirely, but arbitrarily throwing up the victim label prevents logical exploration of the roles everyone involved actually had and thus invalidates any contextual framing other than criminal.

    Whatever someone experiences for better or worse has far less impact than how others respond to the experience. Imagine walking into an emergency room with part of a finger cut off and the on duty staff freaks out. The memory of the experience is scientifically proven to be worse than if the reaction would have been positive or neutral. The same goes for anything else, especially experiences already perceived as negative or bad. By reinforcing bad and negative points of view regardless of them being valid at a basic level what occurs is additional long term harm. By advertising someone as a victim it cements a wrong done and might actually enhance feelings of unsure to feelings of hurt. In other words even if someone was hurt and that’s how they felt without anyone informing them that they had a bad experience the reminder/suggestion of the same degree or greater harm is in of itself harmful. Now imagine how someone would feel if repeatedly told they were harmed when they look back on an experience as mildly uncomfortable, or in some instances positively. No easy solutions exist, but just like anyone who commits an offense should not be classified and sorted by an overall category, those on the other end ought not be automatically lumped together because everyone experiences things differently and ignoring/discarding an experience that does not conform to some narrative of normal is just as harmful as ignoring instances where something did happen.

  3. Timmr

    Memories change over time. The brain is not a hard drive that files away data that can be accurately brought up years later. The memories can be altered, or even made up by interactions with people’s opinions and your present environment.
    And frankly, we need to encourage people to report crimes as soon as possible, while evidence of harm is fresh and people can give support. This encourages the opposite.

  4. Two states east

    SOL, which by the way could mean you are Ship Out of Luck, actually is the abbreviation for Statute Of Limitations. That said, for Californians you have the 2002 SCOTUS decision of Stogner to protect you. That Decision of course was the end result of the Calif Legislature foray into lifting of SOL in the 1990’s. But they still try: In 2014 they passed SB-926 which ups the age to 40. However, at the end of SB-926 it says only if crime is committed on or after 2015, knowing they can’t violate the EPF of Stogner !

    By the way, trash me if I have this wrong..

  5. Malcolm

    The Statute Of Limitations was set for a good reason. As humans our memories are fleeting. Yes, we have long term memory that reminds us of all the wonderful things we have experienced as well as those that were not so pleasant. But the clinical fact is that as time passes our memories are quickly tainted. We filter these memories to create new memories that fit what we wish them to be. They become memories of memories.

    This accouts for why we look back with fondness at our childhoods as such a better time. We have filtered out the things that didn’t matter or don’t fit our new perceptions as we grow older. It is for this exact reason that the SOL was put in place.

    If you doubt this then just take a momentn to ask your mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, cousin, or friend about events that transpired years ago that you were a party to. The stories may be similar but you will certainly hear reiterations that do not mathch your memory of the same events. Is it their memory of the event that is flawed? Is it yours?

    It is a compelation of all the memories that bring us to a whole new narrative of what actually happened. The truth is, the memory of the exact event has beoome a shadow of the real event. It holds truths in its basic shape but is devoid of the true aspects of the actual chain of events that make the memory.

    To extend the SOL to 20, 30, 40 years or to leave it open ended is to allow people to prosecute based on what now has become a fantasy. Yes, those memories may have tidbits of fact, but most of it will now be skewed to meet what we want to belive.

    And yes, even our memories of what brought us all here to this site, of the events that we have lived through, will also be skewed over time. That is why it is so important that the injustices that are being brought upon us be address sooner than later. Because both sides will slowly skew the facts and eventually it all becomes fiction. and justice based on fiction is fiction of itself.

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