George Rucker, 82, a former Roman Catholic priest, was arrested in Alaska and returned to Los Angeles, where he faced charges of molesting 12 girls over 30 years, starting a year after he was ordained as a priest in 1946. But Rucker is a free man, among an estimated 800 people who are avoiding jail or trial becasue of a June 26 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that voided a 1993 California law allowing prosecution of child molesters without regard to statutes of limitations.
The New York Times says that the ruling and the release of the offenders has infuriated victims and frustrated prosecutors. “It devastated me and my family,” said Carlos Perez-Carrillo, who said that one of the released men molested him repeatedly at a high school 20 years ago. “You wait for justice for 20 years, and then it’s taken away overnight.”
Katherine Freberg, a lawyer in Irvine, Calif., who represents people who say they were abused by priests, said that “potentially thousands and thousands of other pedophiles will get away with their crimes because other state legislatures will be reluctant to pass new laws.” Lawmakers in New York, Massachusetts, Illinois and Florida, she said, had been considering extending the statute of limitations for sexual crimes against children but would now be unlikely to try.