Congress undergoes debate on statute of limitations

By Missy Langdon
Slate Online
April 19, 2016

The U.S. Congress is looking over legislation now to change the statute of limitations law.

Last week here at Shippensburg University, we had the “Take Back the Night” event, at which victims of sexual assault spoke out about their awful experiences. I am sure anyone who attended that event had a heart full of grief for anyone who had to go through that in his or her life, as well as a mind full of ideas on how to stop it.

There is an entire legal matter in regard to sexual assault that also needs to be addressed, and that is the statute of limitations. The statue of limitation states how long you have to file a crime. For rape it is 12 years and for assault it is two years, according to After these time limits, the victim is unable to come forward and receive justice. Is this really fair?

The statute of limitations is basically putting a time limit on grief and fear. I would imagine that a huge factor in a victim’s decision to not come forward and get justice would be fear. Fear of their attacker finding them again. Fear of having to face the situation. Maybe even fear of having to speak about and relive the event, whatever it may be. I just do not think it is fair to put a time limit on someone’s grieving and healing time.

On a positive note, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on April 13 to abolish the statute of limitations in regard to child sex-abuse crimes and it got an astonishing 180-15 vote, moving the vote to the Senate next, according to

It would be a huge step forward in our society if we were able to get an extension, or even completely get rid of these time limitations on how long a victim has to come forward about a horrific crime. Some people would argue that after such a long amount of time it is unfair to the person being accused, but is it really? If he or she is found guilty, even if it is 30 years later, it means that they are guilty. Time does not make someone “un-guilty” of a crime; time only gives them more time to hope that they will not get caught.

By removing the statute of limitations, we will be able to give victims of assault and rape the time they need to heal while still being able to come forward and give justice where it is due. I truly hope that abolishing the statute of limitations with regard to child sex-abuse crimes will get through the Senate. It will be a huge step in the right direction and hopefully give victims a more comfortable feeling about coming forward, rather than feeling like they need to be rushed.


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