October 27, 2005

New molestation law


A new law extending the statute of limitations for child molestation was inspired by a Bay Area teen, who several years ago watched in horror as her alleged attacker walked out of court, case dismissed because the statute of limitations had run out. He had escaped a trial simply by waiting out the clock.

It's not uncommon for molesters to have evaded justice that way. A Long Beach ex-priest and admitted pedophile, Michael Baker, is free today because Cardinal Roger Mahony protected him from the law. By the time Baker was ready to stand trial, the state's 10-year statute of limitations on such crimes had expired.

Under the new California law, far fewer molestation victims will have to face such scenarios. The new law, which will go into effect Jan. 1, gives prosecutors until the victim's 28th birthday to file charges.

The law cannot be applied retroactively: The California Legislature already tried that unconstitutional maneuver, and was slapped down (rightfully) by the Supreme Court in 2003. The Legislature had made a huge tactical error by passing a law that was destined to be overturned, and gave false hope to victims throughout the state.

Posted by kshaw at October 27, 2005 10:11 AM