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Lisa Foster: Erase statute of limitations in childhood sex abuse cases

To the Editor:

I would like to inform your readers of the current laws with regard to the crime of childhood sexual abuse in Massachusetts.

In 2006 the criminal statutes were raised from a victim’s age of 31 to the victim’s age of 43. Cases of incest have a separate restriction and for these cases the statutes expire at the age of 26. Changes on the criminal side of the law can not be rendered retroactively. It is the law at the time of incident that applies. This means I and many others will never have the option of a criminal suit against our abusers. If another victim who was abused within the statute of limitations decides to come forward, they would have a chance at a case.

On the civil side there is currently a three-year rule: three years from incident, three years from majority and three years from “discovery.” For survivors like me the obstacle in bringing suit against our abusers is to prove that we have only known of the abuse for less than three years. It is fairly ridiculous to have such an obstacle and in many cases it is a difficult and costly one to argue past.

On May 7, I and many other survivors, advocates, law and government officials testified to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in support of legislation to rewrite the laws with regard to childhood sexual abuse. I would like to share my testimony in support of the complete elimination of the statute of limitations for these crimes.

Lisa Foster


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