WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) today introduced legislation to deliver more resources to support victims of child sexual abuse and incentivize states to pursue the prosecution of these crimes.

The No Time Limit for Justice Act would provide states that meet certain requirements with a 5% increase in federal grant funding under the Services, Training, Officers, Prosecution (STOP) program to help train law enforcement and prosecutors in addressing child sexual abuse.

States would be eligible for the funding increase if they eliminated both the statute of limitations for prosecuting child sexual abuse and the statute of limitations for civil suits involving child sexual abuse.

“Those who sexually abuse children are the lowest of the low, and their victims deserve justice,” Senator Capito said. “In West Virginia, we are strong example of a state that stands up for victims and pursues criminals, no matter how long it takes. As one of only seven states to have eliminated the statute of limitations for all felony sex crimes, West Virginia would benefit greatly under this bill through increased funding for law enforcement and prosecutors addressing child sexual abuse. I am proud to join Senator Gillibrand in introducing the No Time Limit for Justice Act and I’ll continue to advocate on behalf of families and children everywhere who seek justice.”

“No child should ever have to endure the trauma of child sex abuse, which can lead to devastating and long-lasting effects. As lawmakers, we must do everything in our power to support these victims and respond in a manner that meets the unique needs of their situation,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Any statute of limitations that prohibits the prosecution of child sexual abuse creates a barrier to justice and Congress has a duty to act. I am so proud to join Senator Capito in introducing the No Time Limit for Justice Act, which incentivizes states to end stringent statute of limitations laws and empowers child sex abuse victims to seek their day in court on their own terms whenever they should choose to move forward on their paths toward healing.”

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National ­Network (RAINN) every nine minutes a child is sexually abused in the United States—about one in nine girls and one in 53 boys under 18 years old with over 93% of victims knowing their perpetrator. With only 12% of child sexual abuse being reported to authorities each year, studies have shown that underreporting of minor sexual abuse can be attributed in large part to the fact that a majority of child victims do not reveal their abuse until later in life. One study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that 60-80% of victims of childhood sexual abuse wait until adulthood to disclose their abuse.

The federal criminal code does not impose a statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. However, in the majority of states, statutes of limitations deprive victims and survivors of child sexual abuse of the opportunity to heal and seek justice from their abusers. Only seven states—North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming—have eliminated statutes of limitations for all felony sex crimes.

Outside Support:

The No Time Limit for Justice Act is endorsed by: RAINN, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NSVRC), CHILD USA, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC), Ujima: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community, The National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault (SCESA), CHILD USAdvocacy, SNAP, Child Justice, Inc., Rights4Girls, The Army of Survivors, Darkness to Light, Champion Women, Together for Girls, BLOOM365, S.E.S.A.M.E., Inc., Tahirih Justice Center, Unchained At Last, WomanKind, Joyful Heart, There Is No Limit Foundation, Parents Against Child Sex Abuse (P.A.X.A.), Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA), End Abuse Wisconsin, and New York Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYCADV).

“CHILD USA sincerely thanks Sen. Shelley Capito for co-sponsoring the No Time Limit for Justice Act. This bill will incentivize the states to increase child sex abuse victims’ access to justice through statute of limitations reform. SOL reform is the tried and true path to identify hidden child predators, to notify parents about organizations putting their kids at risk, and to validate the victims. Thank you Sen. Capito!” Professor Marci Hamilton, Founder & CEO, CHILD USA, said.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

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