OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Senate Law and Justice Committee today listened to survivors of child sexual abuse who cannot seek justice in the courts because the statute of limitations has expired.
“Due to the statute of limitations, my abuser would never face criminal charges and learning this fact was the most devastating day of my life,” said sexual abuse survivor Lisa Flotin.
“I can tell you that childhood sex abuse victims are like the car that once hit just keeps taking damage. You are marked in a way irresistible to other predators,” said survivor Jana Peterson, her voice breaking.
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Peterson said child sexual abuse is at the root of many problems, including drug addiction and mental illness.
“The sexualizing, the exploitation of our children affects everyone. Acknowledge that. Address that. If you really want to get a grip on these epidemics that are killing society, then kill the root cause of so much of it,” she said.
The proposal being considered would remove the statute of limitations when the victim is 12 years old or younger. It would give victims between 13 and 18 until age 30 to file charges.
“We need to be able to prosecute the ones we can if there is evidence. Sometimes there's pictures they've taken. Sometimes they've hidden away videos or something. Let's go after them,” said survivor Donna Campbell.
The survivors thanked Rep. Dan Griffey, Republican, for pushing to lift the statute of limitations on sex crimes.
Asked if the bill would mean justice for her if it passed, Lisa Flotin said, “Yeah. I didn't have the ability to seek closure through legal actions so, personally, this is very important for me.”
House Bill 1555 would “eliminate the statute of limitations only for Rape of a Child in the first degree and Child Molestation in the first degree.” The statute of limitations would be lifted entirely for crimes committed against children through age 12. For children age 13-18, the statute of limitations would extend until the victim is age 30.
Murder, homicide by abuse, arson if a death results, vehicular homicide, vehicular assault if a death results, and hit-and-run injury-accident if a death results are the only current offenses that “may be prosecuted at any time after their commission”.
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