Cheh’s bill to eliminate the statute of limitations on felony sex crimes

Two similar bills were introduced by Cheh in 2013 and 2015 but never received a hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, January 10th, Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) introduced the “Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Elimination Amendment Act of 2017” to eliminate the statute of limitations on felony sex abuse crimes, including rape and sexual abuse of minors.


“It is extremely important that the District eliminate the statute of limitations on felony sex crimes –especially as it concerns the rape and sexual abuse of minors. Child victims are often persuaded or threatened to believe that reporting the crime will have dire consequences. Furthermore, research indicates it can take victims years to come to terms with the abuse they have suffered. Victims often feel guilt, shame, and self-blame due to the stigma surrounding these crimes. Given these realities, perpetrators of these egregious crimes should be held accountable for their actions without an expiration date,” said Councilmember Cheh.


More than 30 states have no criminal statute of limitations for at least one, and sometimes all, sexual assault or abuse crimes. States like Maryland and Virginia exempt all felony sexual assault and abuse crimes from statutes of limitations. In the District, for the most serious felony sex crimes (first and second degree sexual abuse [rape] and first and second degree child sexual abuse) the statute of limitations is 15 years, or 15 years after the minor reaches age 21. All of the other sex crimes in the District, such as third and fourth degree sexual abuse, sex trafficking of children, incest, using a child for the purpose of producing child pornography, first or second degree sexual abuse of a secondary education student by a school authority, etc. have a statute of limitations of 10 years, or 10 years after the minor reaches age 21.


“This is not the first, or even the second time, that I have introduced this legislation and with each introduction it has languished in committee. However, it is time that we fix the law and properly support the victims of sex crimes,” said Councilmember Cheh.


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