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Bill would end statute of limitations on child molestation

Posted: December 7, 2011 - 1:00am

It takes a load of courage for a victim of molestation to come forward to make their case. Quite often the process, they say, can feel like victimization all over again.

That was the situation radio reporter Scott Hudson faced when as an adult he went to authorities to allege a family friend and Baptist minister had molested him at age 12. Then he was infuriated; even though Columbia County investigators confirmed the charges, they couldn’t nab the molester.

The statute of limitations had expired. The time that allowed Hudson to heal enough to come forward also insulated the criminal from justice.

Determined that such a thing shouldn’t happen to someone else, Hudson has been lobbying lawmakers and Gov. Nathan Deal to eliminate the statute of limitations in child molestation cases.

State Rep. Ben Harbin agrees, and last week prefiled House Bill 676 to do just that.

There likely will be some opposition: Civil libertarians, for example, will worry about the rare case in which an adult will throw an unsubstantiated accusation against another adult out of spite, alleging activity in the distant past for which there is no evidence. While civil courts can remedy such false and damaging claims, there still are real worries that false allegations of this nature can ruin the accused – even if he or she later is exonerated.

Still, that’s a societal issue to solve. Eliminating the statute of limitations on child molestation cases is more than that; it’s a moral imperative.

Hudson deserves accolades for pushing this issue forward, and Harbin deserves our support as he works to make it law.

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