Democratic California Assemblywoman Sally Lieber has introduced a bill to eliminate California’s statute of limitations on rape and child molestation. The state now has a 10 year limit, which it unsuccessfully tried to shed in 2003 during the priest child molestation scandal. (That attempt was shot down by the Supreme Court because it would have applied retroactively.)
The state’s defense lawyers wasted no time speaking out against the measure, arguing that it would be unfairly difficult to prove an alibi for a crime that took place more than 10 years previously. But isn’t it equally difficult to prove guilt in those cases? Particularly in instances of child molestation–where the child him or herself cannot press charges–it seems unfair to allow the statute of limitations to expire before the child reaches 18.
But this tough-on-crime measure ought to be accompanied by a rethinking of the lack of limitations on how much and how often sex offenders can be punished for the same crime, once found guilty.