HARTFORD, CT — Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments for both parties last year was the defeat of legislation that attempted to eliminate or extend Connecticut’s statute of limitations for sexual assault.
Currently the statute of limitations for sex crimes in Connecticut is five years.
That means that neither comedian Bill Cosby nor Larry Nassar, the USA Gymnastics national team doctor, would have ever been prosecuted in Connecticut. Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by numerous women and was convicted by a Philadelphia jury in April 2018 of three charges related to a 2004 assault. Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison in Michigan in relation to sexual assaults over the years on dozens of young women.
Last year’s strike-all amendment in the Senate would have eliminated the statute of limitations in the most serious cases and increased it from five to 25 years for third and fourth degree sexual assault when either crime was a class D felony, but the Office of the Public Defender raised objections before the bill reached the House. The bill died on the House calendar when it wasn’t raised for a vote.
Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, one of five male senators who voted against the bill in the Senate, said during the debate that he was concerned it would increase costs for the public defender’s office.
There are three bills introduced this year to address the statute of limitations when it comes to sexual assault. All three bills are vague about exactly how they would achieve changing the statute of limitations for sex crimes.
The first was introduced by Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven.
The bill says that “the general statutes be amended to provide for enhanced prevention of and punishment for sexual assault and sexual harassment.”
Another bill introduced by Rep. Christine Carpino, R-Cromwell, says that “title 54 of the general statutes be amended to extend the statute of limitations to prosecute crimes of sexual assault.”
Yet another bill focuses on situations when the victim is a minor. The bill introduced by Rep. Henry Genga, D-East Hartford, would eliminate the statute of limitations when the victim is a minor.
All three bills have been forwarded to the Judiciary Committee, which must still decide whether to raise the bills for a public hearing.