Colorado law accounts for victims of sexual abuse who remain silent for months, if not years. Experts assert that admitting this type of exploitation does not happen overnight. It takes time to summon up the courage and turn to someone for help.
Mandatory reporters -- teachers, doctors and social workers - play a pivotal role in the disclosures relayed to them in any form. By law, these professionals are required to call a child abuse hotline, alert law enforcement, or contact the Colorado Department of Human Services within a set amount of time.
Is Eighteen Months Enough?
Lawmakers in the Centennial State are taking a second look at the statute of limitations required for mandatory reporters to alert authorities. Many believe that an extension would not only account for victims who suffer in prolonged silence, but also hold mandatory reporters more accountable for failures in notifying authorities.
Paul Quinn believes that the current 18-month statute is not enough. In testimony before the Colorado House Judiciary committee, he proposed 50 years for mandatory reporters failing to report acts of sexual abuse. Quinn is not only a former Denver County Magistrate judge, he is also a victim of sexual abuse, an admission that took 51 years.
Sen. Rhonda Fields agrees that more time is needed, but not the half-century proposed by the jurist. The Aurora lawmaker has presented a bill that would increase the statute of limitations to three years. While disappointed, Quinn still supports it as do the members of the House committee in a unanimous vote.
Past proposals have called for ten years. Fields' original bill set the statute at five years before an amendment reduced it by two.
Additional Time Could Violate Defendants' Rights
Opponents claim that the current statute is appropriate, considering that failure to report sexual abuse is a misdemeanor. Additionally, an increase would mean extending the time of these cases. Recollections fade. Paperwork goes missing. Witnesses may have second thoughts about testifying. The combination of those factors could deny a defendant a fair and impartial trial.
The bill now moves to the entire House for a vote.