Child sex abuse experts say at least 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 5 boys are sexually abused in their lifetimes. It often takes years for victims of child sex abuse to come forward – And by the time they’re ready it’s often too late to take action against the crimes committed against them.
“I know that as a survivor and years of advocacy that it takes victims decades and decades and decades to come forward,” said Kathryn Robb, a sexual assault survivor from Lexington.
Survivors are asking state lawmakers to extend the statute of limitations for child sex abuse. They’re supporting a bill that would allow sexual abuse claims to be filed in civil court until a victim turns 55 years old, instead of 21-years-old.
“What it will do is make it possible to identify the hidden predators that are now hiding in the state of Massachusetts because the law has been created here in this state as in other states to prefer the predator,” said Cardozo School of Law Professor Marci Hamilton.
Those over the age of 55 would have one year to report a sex crime. Abuse survivors also want lawmakers to approve legislation that would put all sex offenders on an online registry.
“I hope that for the state of Massachusetts and eventually the whole country can allow levels, all levels of sex offenders, up online to do anything and everything we can to prevent me, her, your mother, your daughter, your sister, your son, anyone that you may know from being a victim of sexual assault,” said Jeremy Bethoney, a sex assault survivor from Hingham.
But some state lawmakers cautioned fairness for alleged attackers. Barnstable state Representative Brian Mannal (D-Barnstable) proposed a bill that guarantees sex offenders rights to an attorney during classification hearings.
“Indeed they are not popular bills. I filed them in the interest of fairness and justice,” said Rep. Mannal
The Barnstable Democrat also filed bills that give judges discretion when assigning GPS devices to sex offenders and ban minors from being prosecuted for consensual sex with their peers.
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