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Making the case for and against statutes of limitations on sex crimes

A September press conference with three new alleged victims in the Bill Cosby scandal.
A September press conference with three new alleged victims in the Bill Cosby scandal.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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Statutes of limitations set limits on how long a person has after an event to take legal action pertaining to that event.

The idea is to protect the defendants from being accused for long periods of time and to encourage plaintiffs to be diligent about pursuing legal action. But where is the line between protecting defendants from being accused of a crime for years and protecting defendants from ever seeing the inside of a courtroom.

Joelle Casteix argues these laws are more likely to do the latter in a recent L.A. Times op-ed titled “Don’t let time shield sex predators.” Casteix was a victim of sexual abuse in her teens and says while she was able to prosecute the person who assaulted her, many other victims aren’t so fortunate. She says California’s sex crimes laws are “abysmally complicated” and that the deadlines for victims to come forward are “arbitrary -- and downright confusing.”

How do you feel about statutes of limitations as they pertain to sex crimes? Would you support a reform of state statutes of limitations on certain crimes? When is a statute of limitations appropriate and when is it not?


Joelle Casteix, Volunteer, Western regional director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and the author of the book "The Well-Armored Child: A Parent's Guide to Preventing Sexual Abuse."

Mark Hathaway, private defense attorney in Los Angeles who has represented students and others accused of sexual misconduct