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Florida House backs eliminating time limit in sex abuse cases

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida House late Monday voted to eliminate a time limit for child sex-abuse victims to file criminal complaints against their abusers.

On a unanimous vote, the House approved the bill (HB 199), which would remove a statute of limitations for sexual battery cases when the victims are younger than 18 at the time the crimes occurred.

The proposed law, however, would only apply to offenses committed on or after July 1.

“Child rape is one of the most heinous crimes that can be committed. We need to allow child victims the time they need in able to come forward,” said Rep. Scott Plakon, a Longwood Republican who is sponsoring the bill.

Current law offers victims a patchwork of deadlines in which charges can be filed, depending on the age of the child, when the crime was committed, the severity of the assault and the victim’s age when the alleged assault was reported to authorities.

The push to lift the statute of limitations in Florida came after 23 states approved new laws last year that eased or eliminated the time limit for child sex-abuse claims against alleged abusers or institutions -- such as schools or churches -- with which they were affiliated, according to the advocacy group Child USA.

Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, is carrying an identical bill (SB 170), which is ready for consideration by the full Senate.