Smith asks Senate Judiciary Committee to End Statute of Limitations in Sex Crimes Against Children
TRENTON, NJ – Keith Smith testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee asking members for their support of Senate Bill S-2405. If passed, the Bill will revoke the existing statute of limitations in civil actions for sexual abuse, sexual assault and rape. The current two-year statute of limitations will be removed, allowing victims to indefinitely seek justice in civil courts from perpetrators of sex crimes against children.
After hearing over four hours of testimony, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 9 – 0 in favor of the Bill, moving S-2405 out of Committee for consideration by the full Senate.
Smith said, “We’re one step closer to changing the law in New Jersey, a law that will end the Statute of Limitations in Civil Actions for Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault and Rape of children.”
Smith is a survivor of a stranger abduction sexual assault and author of Men in My Town.
The transcript of his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee is printed below.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee,
I’m appearing before you today to ask for your support of S-2405 sponsored by Senators Joseph Vitale and Nicholas Scutari. If passed, this bill would remove the current statute of limitations in civil actions for sexual abuse of a minor and expand the categories of persons and entities potentially liable for sex crimes committed against children.
For the past 15 years, I have been a member of the board of directors of a 501 (C)(3) social service agency providing crisis intervention counseling services to child victims of sexual abuse, 6 of those 15 years as the Chairman of the Board. Today I’m here in a different role. Today, I’m here to speak with you as a survivor of sexual violence.
In 1974, I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger; a recidivist, pedophile predator hunting for boys in my childhood hometown of Lincoln, Rhode Island.
I’m not here to tell my story, but to ask you to help the children of New Jersey and adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse by supporting S-2405 as proposed, without revisions.
Children who are victims of sexual abuse often resort to inappropriate behaviors to cope as they suffer through physical, emotional, behavioral and social problems directly related to their abuse.
Some turn to drugs and alcohol, drop out of school, run away from home, suffer from eating disorders, sleeping disorders, personality disorders, stress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome and life threatening sexually transmitted disease.
Some children have difficulty forming trusting relationships, resort to physical violence, sexual promiscuity and inappropriate and sometimes criminal sexually reactive behavior.
Some resort to cutting, self-mutilation and in the most extreme cases they’ve murdered their abuser while others contemplate, attempt or commit suicide.
Directly attributable to their sexual abuse, victims often suffer these enduring problems throughout their adolescence and into adulthood, many suffering through decades of silence, never disclosing their abuse.
But why not? Why don’t they disclose?
Children and adults remain silent out of misplaced guilt, fear, shame, embarrassment and under threat of violence from their perpetrators, threats of violence directed to the child or their family. In time, often in a number of years that far surpass the current 2 year statute of limitations, some victims of childhood sexual abuse get the strength to come forward, the strength to speak out, the strength to face the demons that haunt them and the perpetrator of their abuse. Unfortunately, the amount of time that lapses between the sex crime committed against the child and the date the adult survivor comes forward seeking justice, often exceeds the current 2 year statute of limitations and dissolves the possibility of civil action.
I agree with the sponsoring Senator’s position that eliminating the existing statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases would be in the interest of justice and respectfully request your support for S 2405.
Senators, it saddens me to say that sex crimes committed against children will never stop. The life altering physical, emotional, behavioral and social side effects of sexual abuse, suffered by children into adulthood, last a lifetime. Shouldn’t a victims’ ability to bring civil action against perpetrators of sex crimes last just as long?
Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you this afternoon.
Keith Smith, author of Men in My Town, is a Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor and a Keynote Speaker on issues of child safety. He’s available as a speaker for conferences, seminars and fundraising events benefiting non-profit organizations, government agencies, companies and professional associations dedicated to helping children who have been sexually abused.
The story of the abduction, beating and rape of a teenage boy from Lincoln, Rhode Island, followed by the unsolved brutal murder of his assailant in Providence, is now a moving novel written by the man who survived this vicious attack.
Men in My Town by Keith Smith. Based on Actual Events.