Child sexual abuse is horrific, yet a common crime. Many times it takes years for the victim to come forward and it can be too late because of statute of limitation law, but that's changing. This week, state lawmakers voted unanimously to end the statute of limitations of certain sex crimes involving minors.
The Smith brothers, Marc and Matt would have missed their chance at justice, to put the man who sexually molested them behind bars. It happened in the 80's, the predator was their youth baseball coach. But because the coach, Richard Roberts took kids across state lines, he could be tried in federal court. Now the brothers want to help others.
It's a painful secret two brothers never spoke about until last year. Matt says, "Marc called and asked if it had happened to me, I confirmed it and then I said I'd come forward as well."
That conversation got started because Marc saw the coach he had as a child on the same baseball field as his son. A man who sexually molested him and other kids.
Fast forward and in 2012, Walter Richard Roberts, 62, pleaded guilty to molesting boys over 10-years. It played out in federal court; otherwise, the Smith's would have missed their chance at justice, because the law states a child victim's age limitation is 28 to come forward.
But with the brothers help, the age limitation has been amended.
Matt says, "I think it's huge. There is something to be said obviously for bringing the abuser to justice, but in a bigger sense the thing that scared me, a motivating factor for me to come forward was to protect other kids out there."
Marc says it should never be too late and victims should not be ashamed. "It's not just about putting someone in jail, it's not just about getting someone away from kids so they can't do it to more kids. A lot of it is about yourself too." Marc continues, "When victims see it on TV and they read about it and they see people constantly talking about sexual abuse, and coming forward, the kids are going to feel comfortable talking about it."
Opponents of changing the age limitation say victims might get more justice, but fear it could also lead to more fraudulent claims.
SB92 has been signed into law by Governor Beebe. To read it, click below.