Extending the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Assault in Florida
More so than the black lives matter movement, more so than the debate on abortion, and more so than climate change, the #MeToo movement dominated public discourse last year. Ever since the #MeToo firestorm erupted in light of the revelations around Harvey Weinstein, public figures have fallen in droves after past accusations from former victims have come to light. Prominent political figures such as Al Franken and Brett Kavanaugh have faced the heat alongside celebrities such as Bill Cosby and Kevin Spacey. While awareness on the topic is at an all time high, concrete steps to help prevent future abuses do not seem to be a priority in federal and state legislatures.
Reforms to Sexual Assault Laws
Advocacy groups have proposed several avenues to reforming laws to offer more protection to people that are sexually harassed and abused. Several of the reforms are almost too obvious to fail, while other reform proposals may be more difficult to pass. Some proposed reforms include:
· Support services for survivors
· Force rape kits to be tested in a timely manner
· Mandatory reporting
· Victim restitution
· Covering all workers under Title VII
· Limiting non-disclosure agreements
· Limiting arbitration
· Extending the statute of limitations
One of the painful things for victims of the #metoo movement is that many abuses happened a long time ago and with there just now being widespread public support for #metoo victims, victims that are just now coming forward may be too late to have their abusers be prosecuted by the law. Many of Bill Cosby’s acts against women, for instance, happened too long ago for him to be prosecuted for all of them.
Me Too No More Bill
Florida state congressmen Adam Hattersley has introduced a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for sexual assaults. Under current law, a sexual battery is a first degree felony which has a statute of limitations of only four years from the date of the commission of the crime.
That is a pretty small window to bring justice against someone who has committed sexual assault. Hattersley’s “ Me Too No More” bill will attempt to change that. H.B. 165 would make the statute of limitations for any sexual battery crime unlimited, with few exceptions. Having an unlimited statute of limitations would give women who have been assaulted time to come forward with their stories on their own terms and would prevent their abusers from relying on the passage of time to keep them out of prison.