Abolishing the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Crimes Against Minors in Florida
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One of my teachers at Oak Ridge High School here in Orlando, FL, sexually abused me when I was two weeks past my 15th. birthday. After burying this deep within me for more than 40 years, I was contacted by another woman who was also abused by him. We have now found out about 5 women who were his victims in the early 1970s.
Two of us have met with him. He was forced to admit his crimes, and that he would do whatever we wanted to keep us quiet. One of the women asked him to help her get her high school diploma (she was 1 1/2 credits short because when she went to the guidance counselor at the school, he told her nobody would believe her. She quit coming to school because she was so uncomfortable around him.) I asked him to voluntarily register as a sexual predator, but he slammed his fist on the table and said he would never do that.
This man went on to teach for many years after what happened to us and retired with his full pension. His former wife knows all about this, and was contacted by two women from the city where they lived before moving to Orlando, and believed that what we all said was true. These are secrets we kept for many, many years, just like most childhood victims. The average time a child keeps these secrets hidden is between 30 and 40 years, and some never make it known. They fight the demons of their past, and the shame of thinking they caused these horrible deeds to happen. Bouts of anger and depression follow this type of abuse and many times it comes from such a dark place the victim isn't even able to articulate why they are lashing out.
We want the statute of limitations for these crimes to be abolished. It is entirely unfair to draw an arbitrary line for those who can be prosecuted, and those who cannot. It is not right that so many of us suffer, and cannot get any justice for what happened. Finding out there were others was the most devastating news I ever heard, and increased my feelings of guilt over what happened with this man. He feels no guilt and has never suffered any consequences for his criminal behavior.
These predators don't usually just stop their behaviors until they are caught. There may be many other victims out there, even some that fall within the statute of limitations. Until we are free to voice our accusations (we have been informed by law enforcement officials and the State's Attorney's Office that we could be liable for slander if we use his name in print or make any accusations, even though they believed our claims), we may never know how many more there may be, and indeed, whether or not more children are being victimized at this very moment.
This all began before all the accusations against Hollywood directors, and politicians. This has occupied most of our thoughts and actions since each of the victims found out about one another. Seeing these issues brought up in the public eye every day, and not being able to do anything about this has made us feel victimized all over again. It is time to give the children who suffered a chance to find justice. Please. Lift the Statute of Limitations and allow the now adult victims of these horrible crimes their day in court.
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