Statute of Limitations laws have been the bane of child advocates for years. There are federal statutes and state statutes, and whichever one takes precedent depends on how good your lawyer is. There are child abuse lawyers who will take a case to court even though they know the statutes of limitations have expired. Why they are not disbarred for frivolous lawsuits is beyond me! Hopefully, most of them are taking the cases pro-bono. I would hate to think an abuse victim would be re-victimized by hefty legal bills from a case that seemed doomed from the start.
Things appear to be changing. The state of Louisiana recently changed the statutes of limitations for those who were abused before they reached their 17th birthday. It was raised to 30 years! If you were abused prior to 21, it’s 10 years.
Most states are still on the old pattern of 2-7 years after your 18th birthday. That is unworkable since most high schools don’t exactly have a ‘read ’em your rights’ class prior to graduation. Now that is a valedictorian speech I would like to hear!
“You who are graduating, who have been sexually abused by adults, have two years to report them! Please see the cop in the back of the auditorium!”
Check out current statutes of limitation laws by visiting: http://sol-reform.com/Louisiana/#current
You’ll notice that link has ‘Louisiana’ in the URL. Just cut and paste that into your browser, and change ‘Louisiana’ to the state that you were abused in. You can see where the law currently stands. I just checked out ‘Maryland’ and discovered it’s 7 years after 18. Virginia is 20 years. Texas is 5 years after 18.
It’s Louisiana I want to concentrate on. That is the home of New Bethany girls home. Many women, sent there as young girls, claimed to have been raped and molested by Mack Ford, the proprietor of the home, and other workers. Many thought their cases were beyond the statutes of limitations.
This was the main motivation toward compiling testimonies for The New Bethany Book and subsequent visits to New Bethany to either confront Mack Ford or hold a memorial service in front of his house. They thought there was nothing they could legally do, so all these other methods appeared to be the only alternatives.
This change to the law was recent so now there is a viable legal option. If you have been sexually abused at New Bethany, or, for that matter, in the state of Louisiana before you reached 17, and have not yet reached the age of 48, you have a shot at seeing your abuser tried, convicted, and thrown in jail!
Nothing is ever cut and dried. And certainly not easy. Nor is there any guarantee that justice will be served since so much depends on the tenacity of your lawyer, the fairness and objectivity of the judge, and the jury pool in the town where the case is on trial. However, due to this recent change in law, you do have a chance!
If you have been the victim of abuse by Mack Ford, please contact the FBI in Shreveport, LA at (318) 861-1890. Your call will remain anonymous.