The Maine Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that would extend the state’s statute of limitations on sexual assaults from eight years to 20 years.
The measure, if approved by the House and signed by Gov. Janet Mills, would put Maine more in line with other states’ sex crimes statutes. The Senate passed the bill without debate.
“Only three other states have shorter statutes of limitations than Maine,” Sen. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, the bill’s sponsor, said during a public hearing on the bill in April. “Several states have removed them entirely for felony level sex crimes, allowing victims to come forward whenever they are ready.”
Opponents to the bill included the Maine Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.
“It is difficult enough as it is now to defend against allegations that occurred some eight years ago,” the association’s executive director, Tina Nadeau said in written testimony to the Legislature. “Trying to look back some 20 years for evidence that would show your innocence of a crime that occurred 20 years ago is nearly impossible.”