Priest scandal sparks debate of Iowa bill to end statute of limitations on sex crimes against minors

Sioux City Journal

February 28, 2019

By Erin Murphy

Charges of sexual assault and other sexual crimes against minors could be tried at any time under legislation being considered by state lawmakers.

The proposal would eliminate Iowa’s current statute of limitations on those crimes.

Currently, sexual assault charges must be brought within 10 years of the alleged victim turning 18 years old or within three years of an alleged perpetrator being identified by DNA evidence.

The proposal to eliminate that statute of limitations is working its way through the Iowa Capitol in the wake of the latest round of revelations of decades-old sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests against minors, most recently in Northwest Iowa.

The Sioux City diocese on Monday released the names of 28 priests credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 100 children while serving the diocese, which covers 24 counties in Northwest Iowa. Six of the priests are still living, but the most recent case of abuse occurred in 1995.

“We continue to see case after case unfold of predators who have been allowed to continue preying on our children,” said Janet Petersen, a Democratic state senator from Des Moines. “Our laws not only benefit perpetrators, but they also benefit organizations that have covered up crimes against children, and that is simply wrong.

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