Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) today released Senate Bill 170, which would remove the statute of limitations on prosecuting sexual offenses of minors. This will be the second year that Senator Stewart has filed the bill in the Senate.
“This legislation adds additional guarantees that justice can be served in cases of sexual assault,” said Senator Stewart. “Currently, there is a time limit for minors on when they can report abuse. It can often take years for children to share such traumatic experiences, and far too often, their window of opportunity to seek justice has already closed,” said Stewart.
Senate Bill 170 will close a loophole for minors aged 16 and 17 that currently only have that three year window to report the crime. The bill removes sexual battery reporting time limitations for all persons under the ages 15 – 18. The bill was inspired by women such as Donna Hedrick, who was abused by a teacher and buried her secret for more than 40 years, and numerous others who could have reported and possibly stopped notorious repeat offenders such as Jeffery Epstein had the statute of limitations not run.
Last session, the bill progressed unanimously through its first committee, but languished thereafter. This year, the legislation has already enlisted early, bipartisan support. The Senate co-introducer is Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville). In the House, the sponsors are Representatives Tracie Davis (D-Jacksonville) and Scott Plakon (R-Longwood).
“Countless individuals have experienced sexual battery during their childhood, and never had the opportunity to bring the perpetrator to justice because of these short-sighted limitations,” said Senator Stewart. “Over the years, time limitations have continued to expand for victims, but it is now the time for the legislature to remove them altogether for minors. It’s a common sense piece of legislation on a nonpartisan issue, which we owe to survivors in their pursuit of justice,” said Stewart.