SALEM – Advocates for reforming the statute of limitations for childhood sex abuse crimes in Oregon took to the Capitol steps Monday before a public hearing to discuss HB 3284.
People who described themselves as adult survivors of child sex abuse rallied and held signs describing what happened to them.
Oregon has a six-year statute of limitations on most sex crimes. The law allows for a longer period of time if the victim is under the age of 18. In those cases, the crime can be prosecuted any time before the victim turns 30, or within 12 years after the crime is reported to police or social workers.
Nationwide, 33 states have eliminated the statute of limitations on some or all child sex offenses, but not Oregon. In 2011, the Oregon legislature considered eliminating the statute of limitations, but the bill died in committee.
People who spoke out at Monday’s rally said it often takes victims decades to come to grips with what happened to them and that’s why they support HB 3284.
“If people are finally able to speak out and the statutes of limitations have expired, it can be extremely frustrating,” said Portland entertainer and writer Margie Boule, herself a victim. “But, beyond that, those abusers are still out there hurting more children.”
Criminal defense attorneys and the American Civil Liberties Union argued that statute of limitations were created because over time, witnesses may die, memories may fade, or critical evidence may be destroyed or lost.
Victim advocates noted that these cases must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Studies have found that in the U.S., one out of four girls and one out of six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18.