The House judiciary committee is scheduled to discuss a bill Tuesday
that would remove the statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases,
including rape, sexual battery, incest, statutory rape by an authority
figure and sexual exploitation.
A statute of limitations sets the maximum time after an event occurred that legal proceedings on that event may be initiated.
"I think this general assembly has been very sensitive to child victims
in the past and they are very committed to holding sex offenders
accountable, so I would suspect it would pass unanimously," said Bonnie
Beneke, executive director of Tennessee's Children's Advocacy Center and
an ardent supporter of House Bill 2278, sponsored by Rep. Richard
"It is a part of healing, to know that there's justice," added Beneke,
although she believes children can heal even without a prosecution.
If the bill passes, the law would apply to those victimized after July
1, 2012, but Beneke believes there is still a benefit to all victims.
"It does send the message to adults who were molested as children that
their voice had an impact on changing legislation," she said.
"I have no doubt it affected my whole life. It wrecked a marriage and I made some really terrible decisions all through my especially young adult life. It always will affect me. I don't think we ever get over abuse," he told Nashville's News 2.
Despite the support of many, criminal defense attorney Brent Horst argued against the bill by saying there could be dangerous possibilities.
"The downside is to someone one who may be falsely accused 20 years after the fact," he explained. "This person allegedly knew for 20 years and they hold back? That's denying the accused possible evidence."
Horst said he is also worried that the extended time would allow bad therapists time to create false memories in the minds of patients.
If the bill is passed, the Tennessee Department of Corrections estimates a 5% increase in admissions for child sex offenses.