Statute of Limitations Removed for Child Sex Abuse Cases in Tennessee

By Nikki Junewicz
WZTV FOX 17 News
July 2, 2019

It was an emotional day inside the State Capitol as House Bill 565 was signed into law by Governor Lee. It removes the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases in Tennessee.

Among those there to witness the historic moment were four of the survivors who fought for its passage. They say this is a day they've been waiting for their entire lives.

For many of us, thinking back on our childhoods is nostalgic and happy. But for victims of sexual abuse, a trip down memory lane, brings heartache, pain, confusion, resentment.

Tina Bland-Ullery, Joanna Yoder, Donna Coulter, and Amanda Cormier first met at the signing, but they share an important bond. Each has ties to Tennessee and was abused as a child.

"I was raised in a very strict Mennonite community over in Pulaski and was sexually abused from the time I was three from the time until I was 21 by five members of my community," explained Yoder.

Coulter, who's from La Vergne, says her assailant was her father.

"That was the earliest memory of my life was that moment, and I remember how it made me feel and that's how I knew it was wrong," Coulter said.

That gut feeling prompted Coulter to tell her mom. A friend at school even reported it to a counselor, nothing was ever done to help her.

Bland-Ullery also silenced at a midstate Christian children's home where she says she was repeatedly abused by by her houseparent.

"How do you make sense of it? This good, honorable, upstanding man that was secretly taking his time with me any time he wanted," explains Bland-Ullery.

Amanda Cormier's story was much more public.

Cormier was among the victims of former doctor and serial child molestor Larry Nassar.

She didn't understand what was happening to her until another athlete came out against him.

"Everything that happened to me happened in an exam room. Some of the times my mother was in the room with me and so she was blocked from what was happening so I thought it was normal," said Cormier.

For children, the world is a hard place to understand.

With this new law, the statute of limitations is removed, and young victims like these four survivors will now have the time they need to process the crimes and report them.

The measure, bringing the people responsible to justice, and closure for their victims.








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