Orlando lawmaker tries to end statute of limitations on youth sexual assault that once protected Jeffrey Epstein

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PHOTO BY MONIVETTE CORDEIRO
  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
State Sen. Linda Stewart has officially refiled her bill seeking to remove time limits for minors that want to report sexual assaults.

Right now, teens aged 16 and 17 have a "three-year window" to report such crimes. Stewart seeks to end those restrictions with Senate Bill 170, allowing those aged 15 to 18 to prosecute alleged abusers at any time.



Stewart filed the same bill — then SB 130 —in December 2018, citing the case of a 15-year-old named Donna Hendrick, a woman who didn't speak out about an abusive teacher for 40 years.

It's a timely bill. In Thursday's press release on the SB 170, Stewart's office directly mentioned now-deceased Jeffrey Epstein as the type of person this law seeks to hold accountable.
“Countless individuals have experienced sexual battery during their childhood, and never had the opportunity to bring the perpetrator to justice because of these short-sighted limitations,” Stewart said in a prepared statement. “Over the years, time limitations have continued to expand for victims, but it is now the time for the legislature to remove them altogether for minors. It’s a common sense piece of legislation on a nonpartisan issue, which we owe to survivors in their pursuit of justice."



Last time around, the bill passed the criminal justice committee but died in the judiciary committee. The bill would take effect July 2020, if it can pass through the Florida legislature and be signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The bill has support across the aisle. It was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville. Representatives Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, and Scott Plakon, R-Longwood are sponsoring the legislation in the House.

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