Removal of statute of limitations on its way to governorby Dara Kam | April 26th, 2010
The House and Senate unanimously did away with the statute of limitations on sexual crimes against children between the ages of 12 and 15 today, sending the bill to Gov. Charlie Crist for signature.
Palm Beach Gardens attorney Michael Dolce, who was repeatedly raped by his Maryland neighbor at the age of seven, has tried for six years to get the measure passed but the Catholic Church has thwarted his efforts.
Senate bill sponsor Dave Aronberg introduced Dolce, who watched from the public gallery and received a thank-you from Sen. Mike Fasano, who was acting as president of the chamber.
“Michael, on behalf of the Florida Senate, thank you for your good work, my friend, thank you,” Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said.
Florida’s current laws gave children between the ages of 12 and 16 three years to file criminal charges although studies show that it is often 15 years before victims go public with their accusations.
“Overwhelming. Very, very grateful that we finally said to these monsters time will never protect them. The law will protect our kids first,” said Dolce, who launched a citizen’s initiative called “Protect Our Kids First” to amend the constitution to remove the statute of limitations because the legislature failed to change the law.
Also looking on were influential lobbyist Ron Book and his daugher, Lauren Book-Lim, whose nanny sexually molested her from the age of 11.
“This is a huge deal. It’s just incredible. We’re so excited,” Book-Lim said.
Up to 70 percent of child molesters walk free because of the time restriction that keeps their victims from pressing charges, said Aronberg.
“This bill is a long time coming. Because there is no statute of limitations for the pain of victims. There is no statute of limitations for the shame and humiliation,” said Aronberg, D-Greenacres.
The Senate approved the bill with 34-0 vote; the House passed it earlier today by a 114-0 vote.
Crist has indicated that he would sign the bill into law.