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Diane Dimond
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Some Sex Crimes Get a Pass -- Why?


Sometimes the simplest-sounding questions spark the most profound discussion.

What's our purpose on earth?

Why is the sky blue?

Why do we have a statute of limitations on sex crimes?

I mean, really, why give the criminal any break at all? By placing a limit on how far back the prosecutor can go to punish a sex predator, aren't we telling countless victims that the justice system doesn't apply to them?

Experts in the medical and law-enforcement fields will tell you the career sex offender has probably committed dozens of attacks over a long period of time before they're ever caught. An FBI profiler once told me the bureau stopped a serial molester who was in his 90s. Imagine how many victims he'd left in his wake.

Let's say a career sex offender — maybe a priest, a teacher or a family member — routinely molests children and tricks them into staying silent for 10 years. (Statutes of limitations vary from state to state.) When the offender is finally brought to trial, the prosecution is often not allowed to tell the jury about their past pattern of bad behavior — not even if a dozen other people come forward to claim the defendant did the same thing to them. Too bad, the law says, it doesn't matter anymore.

That's a horrible thing to tell victims, that what happened to them doesn't matter, that no justice can be had by them.

I know a lot of people who work in the justice system, so I called them to pose the question, "Why is there a statute of limitations on sex crimes?"

Mickey Sherman is a noted Connecticut-based defense lawyer. "The system is designed to protect a defendant's rights. Every person has a right to be notified in a timely manner as to potential criminal charges against them," he told me. It's just not fair for someone to be able to say, 'Hey, 26 years ago last Tuesday this man raped me!'"

When I contacted Boston attorney Wendy Murphy, known nationally as an adamant victim's advocate, she offered a much more sinister assessment of the status quo.

"The way these silly rules work should make any decent person cringe because limitation periods mean a perp who raped 25 children can, as soon as the clock runs out, walk into the middle of main street and brag about his crimes — and there's nothing anyone can do about it."

Many others I contacted didn't want their names used.

Most seemed puzzled when I asked if we could simply do away with the statute of limitations for sex crimes.

A federal prosecutor in New Mexico told me: "That's what the state legislature wants. ... (They) determine what S.O.L. will apply to every crime."

A retired district attorney from California said, "It doesn't have to be that way. ... A state legislature could pass a law and change it. Maybe it is time to change some laws."

I also asked a sex-crimes prosecutor who answered in an exasperated tone of voice: "Why is there a statute of limit on anything! I guess so the cases don't linger forever ..." And he admitted how tough it is to prove a crime happened years earlier. Details get fuzzy, witnesses move away, evidence can get lost, and defendants have the "right to a speedy trial."

I came away thinking the real answer as to why we allow this is because that's the way it has always been done ...

That's not to say that some adjustments haven't occurred. Some states now give childhood victims 30 years to come forward, and some wave the time limitation and start the clock anew if psychiatric treatment has helped a victim recover their memory of abuse or if DNA evidence from a current attack matches the DNA from a dormant case.

Long ago, law enforcement started collecting DNA samples from rape victims, and now forensic matches in current cases are helping past victims find resolution. Finally, they are able to come face-to-face with the shadowy criminal who stole their dignity.

I like Wendy Murphy's suggestion. "Someone," she told me, "needs to confront the head of the judiciary committee in (every) state legislature where the time limits are short and ask only one question: "Why do you want a child rapist to EVER stop looking over his shoulder, wondering if the cops have finally caught up with him?"

The truth: There is no constitutional right to have the clock stop running on a crime. The lawmakers in your state have simply failed to act.

There is no statute of limitations for murder or treason, and I would submit sexual assault is just as life-damaging and heinous a crime. Let's demand we abolish this foolish statute.

Visit Diane Dimond's official website at for investigative reporting, polls and more. To find out more about Diane Dimond and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



10 Comments | Post Comment
Tabloid Junkie
It's slander with the words you use
You're a parasite in black and white
Do anything for news
And you don't go and buy it
And they won't justify it
To read it sanctifies it
Then why do we keep fooling ourselves
Just because you read it in a magazine
Or see it on a TV screen don't make it factual
But everybody wants to read all about it
Comment: #1
Posted by: mjlover4life
Sat Apr 17, 2010 2:08 PM
Tabloid Junkie
It's slander with the words you use
You're a parasite in black and white
Do anything for news
And you don't go and buy it
And they won't justify it
To read it sanctifies it
Then why do we keep fooling ourselves
Just because you read it in a magazine
Or see it on a TV screen don't make it factual
But everybody wants to read all about it
Comment: #2
Posted by: mjlover4life
Sat Apr 17, 2010 2:08 PM
This is "investigative" reporting? And I use the term loosely. This reads like something a junior high schooler with aspirations to become but with absolutely no talent to be (A what?, "Reporter"? "Writer"? "Journalist"? ) wrote it. Reads like an amateur book report.
Wha'd ya do? Sit up last night and make up something to write about? There is absolutely no depth nor substance to this "article". There is nothing here that one couldn't learn from Wikipedia.
Jeez, get a real job.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Paulie
Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:06 PM
hey DEMON you wouldn't know the truth if it bit you in the ass
Comment: #4
Posted by: mjlover4life
Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:30 PM
how did I know she was gonna bring up Michael Jackson's name I think she has a hard on for him she's in heat
Comment: #5
Posted by: mjlover4life
Sat Jul 24, 2010 11:54 AM
these are ones I just found so I haven't had much time to blast her on all of them
Comment: #6
Posted by: mjlover4life
Sat Jul 24, 2010 2:41 PM
Re: mjlover4life
Hello,great comment to this beast all right. The demon will not let up,will she? Sigh,no life witch.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Bev Nelson
Tue Aug 3, 2010 12:17 AM
Hey,Demon let it go already. No one believes or cares about your utter contempt for facts. Let Michael rest in peace. Don`t you want him to put in a good word for you with the big fella? We all know you need all the support you can get to at least have a chance of making it out of the bowels of hell.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Bev Nelson
Tue Aug 3, 2010 12:20 AM
Why is the skt blue. Really ,why were you not struck dumb at birth-not that is a question I would like an answer to!
Comment: #9
Posted by: Bev Nelson
Tue Aug 3, 2010 12:22 AM
Bev Nelson,
no she will never leave him alone she thinks she's an "{EXPERT}" on Michael Jackson when in reality she don't know shit about him either that or she really knows he's innocent but positive media don't pay and this bitch don't care that she lies I told her I know more about Michael than she ever will and I will never lie about him everything I post on here is the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth and she {like I said} wouldn't know the truth if it bit her in the ass.
Comment: #10
Posted by: mjlover4life
Tue Aug 3, 2010 11:10 PM
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