A coalition of some 60 Massachusetts lawmakers has thrown its support behind legislative proposals that would eliminate statutes of limitations for a host of sex crimes, particularly those involving children, reports the Boston Herald. Members of the Coalition to Reform Sex Abuse Laws said they were spurred to action by the scandal involving abusive Catholic priests, 98 percent of whom never will be prosecuted because statutes of limitations expired.
The statute of limitations for rape and several other serious sex crimes is 15 years. Support for changing the law announced on the day after the Rev. Paul Shanley was sentenced to 12-to-15 years in prison for raping a young boy. He would have shielded by a statute of limitations except that he left the state in 1990, causing the “clock” to freeze until his return. The Washington Post reported that at least four states — California, Connecticut, Illinois and Missouri — have scaled back criminal and civil statutes of limitations on sex crimes since 2002. Similar initiatives are being considered in many other states.