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D.C. Council considering bill to eliminate statute of limitations on sex abuse crimes


Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) reintroduced a bill Tuesday to eliminate the statute of limitations on felony sex abuse crimes, including rape, sex trafficking and sexual abuse of a minor.

The current statute of limitations — the time limit prosecutors have to press charges after an alleged crime occurs — on sex abuse crimes is 10 to 15 years, per the D.C. Code. The Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Elimination Amendment Act of 2015 would eliminate those time limits, allowing prosecutors to press charges at any time.

Cheh cited concerns about victims’ reluctance due to trauma or discomfort to come forward immediately following abuse for bringing up the bill.

“Often victims of sexual assault are reluctant to come forward, and sometimes it takes many years for them to come forward,” Cheh said. “We don’t want people to be deprived of due process.”

Cheh noted in her introduction that Maryland and Virginia have no time limits on prosecuting rape and other sex abuse crimes.

The reintroduced bill is virtually unchanged from her original bill, introduced in 2013. This time the bill garnered seven co-sponsors, enough support to pass the current 11-member D.C. Council if it reaches a vote. The bill now heads to the Committee on the Judiciary, which handles any policy related to law.

Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Elimination Amendment Act of 2015

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