The state Legislature will be asked in January to erase the statute of limitations on child molestation charges — the first such measure to surface in a post-Penn State era.
H.B. 676 was submitted Thursday by state Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans.
Currently, acts of child molestation in Georgia must be reported within seven years after the alleged victim turns 16. Former Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested last month on charges he had sex with young boys over a 15-year period – meaning that some of the alleged incidents would not have been prosecutable had they happened here.
The bill would allow prosecution at any time for child molestation, aggravated child molestation or other related offenses when the victim is younger than 16 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime.
From Harbin, via press release:
“The recent events at Penn State University and at Syracuse University have strengthened my resolve to move this bill quickly through the House and Senate, as the current seven-year statute of limitations on reporting acts of molestation makes Georgia a prime hunting ground for those who would prey on our children. I for one will not stand idly by and allow monsters to go unpunished because of a technicality.”
“The very thought that these predators can use the law to their advantage protect themselves, avoid prosecution and remain free years after an offensive is committed is unconscionable. It is my intent to make the statue of limitations on reporting child molesters the same as on those who commit capital crimes and make them accountable for their acts without regard for the passage of time.”
Harbin has introduced the legislation before, only to see it die in committee. But the climate in January may be very different.
A side note: Consider the legislation to be proof that Harbin will not be among the crowd of Republicans (currently four) lining up to challenge U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Savannah, in a newly redrawn 12th Congressional District.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider