Democratic state senator Linda Stewart from Orlando filed legislation Wednesday in hopes of trying to remove barriers on prosecuting rape cases.
“Many young sexual battery victims do not come forward when they are first assaulted,” Stewart said in press release. “Sometimes they don’t understand, sometimes they are afraid, and sometimes they are simply ashamed. Each victim processes these horrendous events in their own way and in their own time. Justice for these children should not be tied to a clock.”
According to Stewart’s office, the bill stems from a case involving a constituent who was sexually abused as a 15-year old high school student and buried her secret for more than 40 years. She later learned that five more girls were also abused, but the teacher was never prosecuted.
Stewart’s bill, if passed, would change the law so that a sexual felony could be prosecuted at any time if the victim was under 18 when he or she was attacked.
Under the current state law prosecuting first-degree felonies has to start within four years of the crime. Prosecuting other levels of felonies must start within, at most, three years of the offense.
SB 130 would take effect July 1, 2019, if it passes during the 2019 legislative session.