Monday, February 21, 2011

Statute of limitations
NEWS UPDATE: 11:45 a.m. - Senators discuss sex abuse bill
Pacific Daily News • February 21, 2011

During discussions on the floor of the Legislature this morning, Sen. Benjamin Cruz spoke to his colleagues in support of Bill 33, which would remove the statute of limitation for sex crimes involving victims under the age of the majority.

"It's absolutely nothing revolutionary. It absolutely cannot be seen as a vendetta against anybody," said Cruz.

Cruz said the bill, which is one of two regarding child sexual abuse that he introduced this session, is about social justice.

"It is something to try to get the victims in these cases justice," said Cruz.

Cruz also said he hoped his colleagues would help him introduce an amendment that would address the statute of limitation for sex crimes involving adults.

Cruz spoke about giving a deposition about his own sexual abuse -- and said in his case he was able to remember the specific details of his abuse, even 40 years later.

"On some of these major traumatic experiences in our lives and in our history, we can all say where we were, what we wre doing," said Cruz.

Cruz also expressed support for Bill 34, which would provide a two-year window for victims of child sexual abuse to file cases in the Superior Court of Guam.

During a public hearing on the bill, Deacon Jeff Barcinas spoke on behalf of the Archdiocese of Agana and said Bill 34 would unfairly target the Catholic Church.

The bill did not make it out of committee.

Sen. Ben Pangelinan spoke in support of Bill 33.

"While we all may be a little uncomfortable because of our family structure and our culture structure, this is not part of our culture," said Pangelinan.

Pangelinan said it would take a measure like Bill 33 to face the issue of abuse.

He said he hoped that the bill would allow victims to come forward and deal with the abuse.

"It is our duty as a government and as a society to ensure that the victim is given that opportunity," said Pangelinan.

Sen. Adolpho Palacios said he felt a bill that eliminated the statute of limitation on sexual abuse would provide a strong deterrant to those contemplating child sexual abuse.

Sen. Frank Blas, Jr. proposed an amendment to the bill that would take statute of limitation away for any criminal sexual conduct offense.

"As a former member of law enforcmeent and having to deal first hand with a number of cases that involved sexual absue, I can tell you just through my observation … it's embarrassing for them," said Blas.

"You're talking about an individual that has to report that they were violated," said Blas.

Blas said it is often difficult for victims -- even those you want to report their abuse -- to "hash out the incident."

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