Should North Dakota Extend The Statute Of Limitations For Prosecuting Sexual Abuse?
Ever since the #MeToo movement began, we have been flooded with heartbreaking accounts from victims of sexual assault. As a result, monsters like Harvey Weinstein and R. Kelly are being exposed to the world for their criminal acts. Unfortunately, we have our share of sexual monsters in North Dakota, too.
The 18-month investigation of child sexual assault allegations against 53 priests and church officials in Bismarck and Fargo concluded this week. A report from Inforum says that Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem determined that the two living alleged pedophiles would not face criminal charges. There will be no charges pressed because:
- The statute of limitations for prosecuting alleged child sexual abusers has passed - not to mention that all but two of the 53 accused are dead. It is reported that a lot of the abuse took place from the 1950s to the 1980s.
- The statute of limitations has passed for going after the people who knew about the abuses and did nothing.
Even though an investigation was done, the worst that happened to the alleged pedophiles is that they lost their positions with whichever Fargo or Bismarck church they were a part of. Meanwhile, victims live with the scars and trauma forever. After his decision was made, the Attorney General sent his "condolences" to the victims saying,
“I regret it will not be possible to have these men face their victims at a trial and face the potential consequences, but I hope it brings a measure of comfort to the victims that these crimes were eventually investigated.”
- Statement from Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem
This is truly heartbreaking news for the victims as no justice will ever be served for the decades of abuse committed and hidden by church officials. But three North Dakota lawmakers are working to make sure other victims get the justice they deserve. The lawmakers had been planning bills that would extend the statute of limitations for reporting and prosecuting sex crimes before the Attorney General made his decision. Learn more about the potential bills here.
I think what happened with this child sexual abuse case against the 53 accused molesters is a slap in the face to the victims. No justice, whatsoever. And the AG's flippant comment about the crimes being "eventually investigated" is beyond tone-deaf. It sends the wrong message to all sexual assault victims. And some wonder why victims never do come forward (or take so long to say anything). Hopefully, we will soon see some changes with the way sexual assault is handled in North Dakota.
Do you feel that the statute of limitations on sex crimes in North Dakota needs to be changed to help victims get justice and hold their predators accountable?