Bill to Nix Statute of Limitations from Child Sex-abuse Cases Ok’d by Senate Panel

By Jameson Cook
Morning Sun
December 1, 2016

Steve Bieda

A bill that eliminates the 10-year statute of limitations for criminal cases involving child sex-abuse victims unanimously passed a Senate panel.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill 5-0 on Wednesday, and it was referred to the full Senate for a potential vote, according to state officials. The bill’s main Senate sponsor is state Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren. A companion bill, HB 5859, in the state House of Representatives, sponsored by Rep. Adam Zemke, D–Ann Arbor, has not made it out of the Criminal Justice Committee.

The bill would eliminate the requirement that certain charges be filed within 10 years of the incident or in the case of a minor victim that it is filed before the accuser turns 21.

“The sexual exploitation of children is one of the most heinous crimes conceivable,” Bieda said in a written statement. “Michigan law must be able to hold perpetrators accountable, regardless of how long it takes victims to report, and I am glad that my colleagues and I were able to agree on this issue.”

The bill would remove the limitation in cases involving child pornography, second-, third- and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, and assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct. First-degree criminal sexual conduct, which equates to forcible rape, already does not have a statute of limitations in Michigan.

Bieda said experts on child sexual abuse assert that many child victims are incapable of processing or talking about the abuse. It can take decades for them to make a report.

Aviva Woodward of Gregory, Mich., was abused at the age of 11 by a family member and testified in support of SB 1067 during the committee hearing.

“The lasting effects of what my ex-stepfather did to me has been worsened by the fact that once I was an adult and able to stand up for myself, I was still powerless in seeking justice,” Woodward said. “This injustice needs to be overturned.”

The bill also would help authorities track patterns of sexual abuse, Bieda said.









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