Sex Abuse Statute of Limitations Would Go Away Under Pending Bill

The Jerry Sandusky sex abuse trial is bringing many emotions and memories for victims of other alleged abuse crimes — and some victim advocates say it’s renewing their resolve to pass a law in Massachusetts that would eliminate the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse. 

When Kathy Picard first decided it was time to confront in court the man she says sexually abused her as a child, the statute of limitations for that crime was 15 years after a victim’s 16th birthday. She was a year too old. When Massachusetts later extended the time period to 27 years in 2006 …. she was again too old. 

“And that was a real blow. Because it’s like, he’s free to go, he’s free to do whatever. and that made me angry enough to write to all the state senators and all the state reps, to say we need to do something about this law,” Picard says.

Now 49, Picard has become an activist for a pending bill in the Massachusetts House of Representatives that would eliminate the statute of limitations altogether. The Massachusetts Catholic Conference has come out against the bill, and Catholic leaders in other states have claimed eliminating a statute of limitations could bankrupt the church, as Catholic priests have been accused of child rape dating back decades. Some legislators in Massachusetts — who said crimes should be prosecuted while memories are still fresh — tried to keep the bill from going to the house floor, but those efforts were unsuccessful. Picard says she’s expecting a house vote on the bill before July 31st.