The child in this case was a 14 years old girl, who underwent a medical examination, and revealed that she was 12 weeks pregnant. At first, the girl denied that she had been sexually active or that she was being sexually abused at home. She later claimed that she had been raped at school by a classmate.
The girl eventually told the investigating police officers that she had consensual, unprotected intercourse with a 14 year old boy. She explained that she lied about being a rape victim because she did not want her parents to know that she was having sex. After she gave the police a written withdrawal about the accusation, the case was closed.
The girl turned 18 years of age. Over a year later, when she was 19 years old, she informed the police that she had been sexually assaulted years earlier by her step-grandfather and her previous statement aren’t true.
The girl subsequently testified before a grand jury that her step-grandfather had raped her on three different occasions in their home where they resided. On at least one of those occasions, the offender allegedly threatened the girl that he will going to rape her sister if she did not submit to intercourse with him. She claimed that she told her grandmother about the incidents but her grandmother did not believe her. She also explained that she had kept the sexual assault and pregnancy a secret from everyone because her step-grandfather warned her not to say anything and she was afraid of him.
The grand jury consequently indicted the offender for numerous offenses grouped into the three distinct time periods. First, for the offender’s alleged conduct, he was charged with rape in the second degree, sexual misconduct, endangering the welfare of a child, two counts of sexual abuse in the third degree and harassment in the second degree. Second, with respect to his actions, he was indicted for rape in the second degree, rape in the third degree, sexual misconduct, menacing in the third degree, sexual abuse in the third degree, harassment in the second degree and endangering the welfare of a child. Lastly, the offender was charged with rape in the second degree, sexual misconduct, harassment in the second degree and endangering the welfare of a child.
Accordingly, the offender was cumulatively indicted for three counts of second-degree rape, one count of third-degree rape, three counts of sexual misconduct, one count of endangering the welfare of a child, three counts of third-degree sexual abuse, one count of third-degree menacing and three counts of second-degree harassment.
The offender then moved to dismiss the indictment against him, contending that the statutes of limitations for all of the charged offenses had expired. He further asserted that the limitations periods began to run when the victim informed the police that she had been raped by a classmate.
Based on the commencement date, the offender argued that the statutes of limitations expired and, therefore, the charges against him were untimely as they were not initiated.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court agreed with the offender and dismissed the indictment. The court also held that another legal toll that applies if an offender’s whereabouts are continuously unknown and continuously unascertainable by the exercise of reasonable diligence was not available in the situation because the police had not conducted the criminal investigation with due diligence.
Accordingly, the court granted leave to both parties and affirmed the decision.
Sources revealed that even if class A felonies and four specified class B felony sex offenses have no limitations period, all other felonies are covered by a five-year statute of limitations. Further, a two-year window applies to misdemeanor and petty offenses must be prosecuted within one year.
Moreover, if a crime governed by a statute of limitations, the general rule is that the time period commences when a criminal offense is committed. The provisions were adopted based on the legislature’s recognition that the child-victims of sex offenses cannot fully appreciate the crimes committed against them until they reach maturity, many child-victims are victimized by parents or other persons with whom they have a close relationship, and cannot reasonably be expected to report the crimes while they remain under the sway of their abusers.
Based on records, the law was a major component of the legislative package. It established that the statute of limitations in a prosecution of a sex offense committed against a minor does not begin to run until the child pornography had reached the age of eighteen or the offense is reported to a law enforcement agency or statewide central register of child abuse and maltreatment, whichever occurs earlier. Delaying the commencement of the relevant limitations period until the age of maturity was intended to increase the likelihood that young adults, recently freed from a position of dependency, will disclose the offenses committed against them in order to seek remedy through the criminal justice system and that would also improve opportunities for preventing recurrences of the conduct by the offender. Even though majority age replaced the commission of the crime date as the general starting point for the statute of limitations, a legal exception starts the clock running sooner. The limitations period is triggered if the offense is reported to the police or to the central register for child abuse.
In this matter, the scope of the law is the central focus on the appeal, more particularly, what constitutes a report to law enforcement for statute of limitations purposes.
The case opened again for another review and the judge stated that in his view, an offense was reported to a law enforcement agency within the meaning of the law when a social worker notified the police that a fourteen years old girl, who was 12 weeks pregnant at the time, claimed to have been raped and impregnated by a fellow student. As a result, the second count of the indictment, which charges the girl’s step-grandfather with the crime of second-degree rape during the time, is time-barred.
The judge also agreed with the majority that the statute of limitations has not expired for the first and third counts, which charge the offender with second-degree rape at other times.
The judge further stated that he did not blame the police for accepting the girl’s explanation of consensual sex with a fellow student. Unfortunately, the version of the cause of her pregnancy, even though she was only 14 years old, is reasonable. Additionally, the police knew that the girl did not come willingly and her hand was forced by the sudden discovery at the health clinic of her pregnancy.
The judge asserted that if the reporting exception in the law has any meaning, though, the reports made to the police by the social worker and the girl are surely specific enough to qualify. Otherwise, the only report sufficient to start the clock running under the provision is one where the police, after investigating a specific allegation of child sexual abuse, proceed to indict someone. Drug possession was not a factor.
He further stated that the exception was intended to foreclose future prosecutions of anyone where the police, having received a specific allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, elect, for whatever reason, not to pursue the matter. As a result of the review, the judge affirmed the order.
Protecting our kids against other people’s interest is hard but protecting our children against the interest of the people inside our own home is more difficult. Dealing with sex offense is one of the hardest things to do. Whenever you need help with this kind of matter, you can hire the New York City Sex Crime Attorney or NYC Criminal Lawyer. Simply visit Stephen Bilkis and Associates office for your queries.