PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Unlike victims of murder, victims of sexual abuse — either as a child or as an adult — face a time limitation that bars the prosecution of their predators.
It also prevents the victims from filing civil lawsuits.
“Statutorily, I represent the needs and interests of all crime victims across the commonwealth,” says Jennifer Storm, the Commonwealth Victim Advocate.
Storm told KDKA’s Jon Delano that her position is clear: “Truly we want to see abolishment of the statute of limitations for all sexual assault victims regardless of the age when the occurrence happens.”
Under current state law, once a child victim of sexual abuse reaches age 30, the victim can no longer sue the predator or their organization like a church, and once the victim reaches age 50, prosecutors can no longer charge the predator with a crime.
If the victim is an adult, the criminal statute of limitations lasts only 12 years after the offense was committed, and civil lawsuits must be brought within two years after the offense was committed.
Storm wants equal treatment for victims young and old.
“We know that the trauma is the same. We know that the issues are just as complex, and so we want to make sure that there’s a pathway to justice for all survivors.”
The state Senate is now considering several bills to remove all limitations or to abolish them only for child abuse.
Some argue a constitutional amendment may also be needed to allow the retroactive prosecution and lawsuits against long-ago abuse.