Priest Abuse Sparks Call for Statute of Limitations Change

An explosive new report about rampant sex abuse among Catholic priests in Florida has some calling for the expansion of time limits for prosecuting sex crimes in the Sunshine State.

At least 97 Catholic priests accused of sex abuse in Florida are either dead or cannot be prosecuted because of the state’s statute of limitations, the Florida attorney general’s office said in a report wrapping up a two-year investigation. The statute of limitations requires that a person accused of a crime be prosecuted within a certain time period.

The revelation has some calling for a “lookback window” that would open up the statute of limitations for certain sex crimes cases. The Orlando Sentinel’s editorial board recently called on lawmakers to give the victims of sex abuse an extra one-year window to file civil lawsuits, if the abuse had not previously been reported.

Meanwhile, the state legislature has taken steps to expand the prosecution deadlines. Lawmakers in 2010 extended the statute of limitations for sex crimes involving children under the age of 16. Last year, the legislature eliminated the statute of limitations altogether for any sexual assaults involving a person under the age of 18.

But those changes are not retroactive. That means they do not apply to prosecutions for alleged crimes that occurred before the changes went into effect. Such a change would likely draw a constitutional challenge.

“Some of these people, we would have loved to have prosecuted,” prosecutor Nick Cox told CBS12 News in West Palm Beach of the hurdles the statute of limitations posed for priest abuse investigators.

Speak with a Fort Lauderdale Sex Crimes Attorney as Soon as Possible

If you or a loved one has been charged with or is suspected of sexual assault or another sex crime in Florida, it is important to have an experienced attorney in your corner. A Fort Lauderdale sex crimes attorney at Whittel & Melton can help.

It is important to understand that the burden is at all times on police officers and prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the specific crime with which you have been charged. That it is more likely than not that you committed the crime is not enough.

At Whittel & Melton, we fight charges head-on, often before criminal charges have been filed. The sooner you consult a seasoned lawyer, the better chance you have of getting charges dropped or reduced.

Our Florida sex crime lawyers represent clients throughout the Sunshine State who have been charged with a wide variety of offenses, including child pornography, sexual assault, rape, internet solicitation, and offenses involving victims who are minors. We work tirelessly to fight these charges in an effort to get the charges dropped or reduced whenever possible.

Our firm handles cases throughout the state, including in Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Pensacola. Contact us online or call 866-608-5529 for a free evaluation with a Fort Lauderdale sex crimes attorney.

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