Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) received unanimous support in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice yesterday for legislation that would remove the statute of limitations for sexual battery offenses committed against any victim under age 18.
“This is an important step in an effort to guarantee that justice can be served in cases of sexual assault against minors,” said Stewart. “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 removes the statute of limitations for prosecuting sexual battery against any victim under the age of 18, regardless of whether the victim reports the crime within 72 hours. This closes a loophole that applied an eight-year statute of limitations for victims age 16-17. The bill was inspired by women such as Donna Hedrick, who testified before the committee yesterday, who was abused by a teacher and buried her secret for more than 40 years.
“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 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. I am looking forward to favorably moving this bill though its final committee stop in Appropriations in the coming weeks,” said Stewart.