Lawmakers look at eliminating statute of limitations in many criminal sexual conduct cases

January 31, 2019 07:09 PM

Prosecutors in Minnesota now have a limited amount of time to file charges in most criminal sexual conduct cases.

But a bill now being heard by lawmakers at the state legislature could result in the elimination of the statute of limitations when it comes to those crimes.

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The House Public Safety Committee Thursday heard a proposal to create a working group to look into the matter. Several victims voiced support for the changes while expressing frustration over the fact that current law doesn't allow many sexual assault cases to be charged nine or more years after the commission of the crime.

"Just this past December, I shared that I was assaulted when I was 12, so that was just over a month ago," one sexual assault survivor told lawmakers.

"And afterwards five women in the Muslim community, all women of color, reached out to me and said the same man had assaulted them. It's been 15 years and I've just become comfortable enough to talk about this...and now the statute of limitations does not protect me."

Legislators said that could change this year.

"I'm very excited that when I do bring my bill back, it does have a component of eliminating the statute of limitations," said Rep. Marion O'Neill, R-Maple Lake. "So maybe they can still go to court because you still need to prove it in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt.

"But I think it gives some dignity back to those who were victimized and (they) realize those cases do matter. Your trauma does matter."


Seven states have already abolished statutes of limitations for felony sex crimes.  

Several more have legislation currently proposed to eliminate statutes of limitations for felony sex crimes.


It came on the same day the committee heard an overview of how sexual assault cases are investigated, and took testimony on a bill that would require law enforcement agencies to adopt standard and specific policies for investigating sexual assaults.

Several victims voiced support for the changes while expressing frustration over the fact that current law doesn't allow many sexual assault cases to be charged nine or more years after the commission of the crime.


 

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