May 12, 2005

Abuse victims rally behind House bill

The Advocate

Capitol news bureau

Sexually abused children would have more time to bring charges against their abusers under a bill that a House committee advanced Wednesday after emotional testimony from victims, dozens of whom attended the hearing.

House Bill 17 would extend the statute of limitations from 10 to 30 years after a child's 18th birthday. Supporters said the step would give victims more time to come to terms with coming forward.

Abuse victim John Connelly told the committee that he suffered at the hands of a relative for four years spanning from when he was 12 to when he got physically strong enough to fend off the attacker.

"I kept it to myself for years because I was embarrassed, ashamed, and I wanted to forget about it," Connelly said. "I thought I would take it to my grave."

It's too late for Connelly to bring charges, and even if HB17 passes, it won't be retroactive. The bill next heads to the House floor.

Many states have either extended the time to report sex crimes against children beyond what Louisiana now allows or have no statute of limitations at all, though each has its own sets of caveats, according to Stacie LeBlanc, director of Legal Advocacy for Children's Hospital in New Orleans.

Posted by kshaw at May 12, 2005 09:05 AM