Statutes of limitations are laws that set a maximum length of time after an event for legal proceedings to take place. The purpose of these laws is said to be, “to facilitate resolution in a reasonable length of time.”
Crimes that are excluded from these statues do exist. Murder and fraud are two of the things that do not fall under these laws.
Recently, these statues have been brought into the public eye again as the trial of Bill Cosby came into play.
As I’m sure most of the world well knows, Cosby has had a troubling amount of allegations of sexual assault brought against him recently.
So far, Cosby has gotten out of most of these allegations as a direct result of one thing: the statue of limitations that protects him and so many other abusers. Currently, he is on trial for seven of the crimes as they were the only remaining cases that hadn’t surpassed their statutes.
& it got me, and so many others, thinking….why do statues of limitations exist for sexual assault at all?????
According to the Department of Justice, rape and sexual assault are the least reported violent crime. What’s more, RAINN states that 4/5 of rapes were completed by someone the victim knew. Further, they break this down into the statistic that 87% of all rapes & sexual assaults were completed by a NON-STRANGER. 87%!
Given those numbers, I do not understand why a statue of limitation exists for such crimes at all. The profound shame & guilt of sexual assault weighs heavily on a victim. In my opinion, from my own experience, I think those things are exasperated even further when your rapist is someone you knew..or, rather, thought you knew.
Four years ago, after my last encounter with the boy that still occasionally haunts my dreams, I was in no place to go through the re-victimization that a court appearance would have been for me at that time. He had used me as his own personal source of sadistic pleasure for three years. I’d known him, quite literally, my entire life.
When making the public declaration to extended family & friends of what he’d done to me, I knew what I was about to lose. I had just lost several members of my family that meant the world to me, turning my life further upside down…not to mention the constant flashbacks, the nightmares that left my in puddles of cold sweats and fear…& all of the negative thoughts about oneself that stem from abuse…how could I go through a trail at that point? How could any victim of such heinous crimes be expected to jump right in?
After moving over 100 miles away & many difficult hours of therapy later, I am finally at a place in my life that I feel strong enough to pursue legal action, if only to make the report that would serve as documentation to follow him for the rest of his life. I know he will follow me for the rest of mine.