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Sex Abuse Survivors Want To Eliminate Statute Of Limitations

Virginia Alvino
Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. - Survivors of childhood sex abuse are lobbying in Salem to eliminate the time limit to press charges against their perpetrators. A committee held a hearing on a new bill Monday.

Letty Merritt, with the group OAASIS, is an advocate for sex abuse survivors. She says she was abused by four male relatives when she was younger. It wasn’t until her mid-30s, after years of therapy that she was finally able to speak out and press charges against her abusers. But Oregon’s criminal statute of limitations expires when victims like Merritt turn 30.

“I just knew that once I was well enough to do something about it, and I stepped forward to do something about it, I was told too late," Merritt says. "So I didn't get well enough, soon enough.”

The bill has support from State Representative Jeff Barker, an ex-cop who chairs the committee hearing the sex abuse measure. Criminal defense attorneys testified against the bill. They argue that the longer it takes to bring charges against an accused sex offender, the less reliable the evidence is.

On the Web:

HB 3284: Eliminating statute of limitations - Oregon Legislature