House Votes on Easing Statute of Limitations on Sex Abuse

The Boston Globe
July 26, 2006

BOSTON — House lawmakers voted Wednesday to extend the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse by 12 years.

Under the bill, which now moves to the Senate, the statute of limitations would be increased to 27 years from its current 15, giving childhood victims until they are 43 years old to report sexual crimes.

"The passage of this legislation in the House today is a good, solid step toward better protecting Massachusetts residents, specifically our children, from sex offenders," said Minority Leader Brad Jones, R-North Reading.

Opponents, however, argue that limitations minimize the risk of people being wrongly convicted many years later, when evidence is scarce and memories not as sharp.

Advocates for victims of child sexual abuse had pushed for lifting the statute of limitations completely, saying it sometimes takes decades for victims to face the abuse they suffered as children.

The state's four Catholic bishops have endorsed extending the statute of limitations, as has Attorney General Tom Reilly, who supports eliminating the time limit altogether. The clergy abuse scandal was the impetus for the legislation.

The bill approved in the House would also force convicted sex offenders to register with the state's Sex Offender Registry Board before they are released from prison.


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