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Restrictions on sexual assault reporting removed

By Barcham - 29 November 2013 9

Statutory limitations have been removed so that victims of sexual assaults that occurred before 1985 can now seek justice for for offences, announced Simon Corbell today.

Victims of sexual assault can now seek justice for offences that occurred before 1985 with the removal of outdated and unjust legal barriers to prosecuting certain offences, Attorney-General, Simon Corbell announced today.

“Statutory limitation periods that existed from 1951 to 1985 meant that victims of certain sexual offences only had 12 months to report the crimes. After that, no prosecution could be brought.

“The effect of these limitations has been ongoing. Until now, victims of certain sexual offences committed during this period could not have a prosecution brought after 12 months. The Crimes Legislation Amendment Act 2013, passed today in the Legislative Assembly, removes the limitation periods so that these sexual offences can now be prosecuted,” Mr Corbell said.

The Crimes Legislation Amendment Act 2013 contains other important changes:

The Act also makes other important amendments to:
— allow police officers to issue a simple cannabis offence notice for possession of up to 50 grams of cannabis where appropriate, allowing police to focus resources on more serious crimes, including drug crimes
— amend the definition of ‘stolen property’ for the offence of receiving stolen property to address issues raised by the ACT Court of Appeal
— provide that a practitioner does not need to be the same sex as a suspect, serious offender or volunteer on whom a forensic procedure is carried out if the suspect, serious offender or volunteer agrees.

The Act also makes amendments relating to criminal infringement notices issued to young people, attendance of serious offenders for forensic procedure hearings and enhanced regulation of firearm frames and receivers.

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9 Responses to
Restrictions on sexual assault reporting removed
gooterz 3:16 pm 01 Dec 13

Mike Crowther said :

SOL’s defeat that worthy goal of general deterrence.

The problems occur when individuals use the lack of SOL against people. If you didn’t like xx teacher then 30 years later you for whatever reason decide to make up something about them.

If it was true or not what evidence do you have after 30 years?

I’ve know a few people who are just of the belief that ‘god will punish them’. Religious schools are always going to brainwash, its followers put god before the law.

Mike Crowther 2:10 pm 01 Dec 13

bd84: Simon Wiesenthal was once asked what was the point of hunting down 90 year old Nazis. He responded that it wasn’t for revenge and that there is simply no way one can ever properly punish someone for such an enormous crime. “My purpose” he said, “was to send a message to the next generation of murderers that no matter how long they live, how far they run, they will still be hunted down.” SOL’s defeat that worthy goal of general deterrence.

Masquara 10:40 am 01 Dec 13

bd84 said :

Having said that would there really be a community benefit from trying a crime that could have occurred 60 years ago?

Yes.

IrishPete 8:04 am 01 Dec 13

gungsuperstar said :

To IrishPete – I largely agree with you about legislative change implemented retrospectively. But as you’ve gone onto say, we’re talking about Statute of Limitations. It’s nowhere near as outrageous as retrospective changes to what constitutes a crime.

Yep, no argument here.

But let’s make sure we are selective and careful about retrospective legislation though. It isn’t always a good idea to make something illegal, or “more illegal” than it was at the time it was done. How can general deterrence and individual/specific deterrence work if the rules might be changed later?

IP

BimboGeek 12:00 am 01 Dec 13

One advantage of bringing old abuses through courts is that courts can establish “facts” allowing you to talk about things without fear of libel or slander. This might be as simple as the need to share stories so that others can learn how to avoid vulnerability or how to reach out beyond the institutions, or to help other children’s charities, schools and religious groups “abuse-proof” their structure by seeing what hasn’t worked and why.

Victims don’t want revenge and punishment anywhere near as much as we want to see others stay safe.

IrishPete 8:10 pm 30 Nov 13

bd84 said :

Retrospective law changes often don’t stand up if challenged in higher courts, especially when laws were in place for such a long time, so I’ll waiting until it withstand a challenge test before being happy.

Having said that would there really be a community benefit from trying a crime that could have occurred 60 years ago?

1985 was less than thirty years ago. Those delightful people may still be engaging in the same behaviours now. The 80 year-olds are probably less of a risk.

IP

gungsuperstar 7:21 pm 30 Nov 13

bd84 said :

Retrospective law changes often don’t stand up if challenged in higher courts, especially when laws were in place for such a long time, so I’ll waiting until it withstand a challenge test before being happy.

Having said that would there really be a community benefit from trying a crime that could have occurred 60 years ago?

You obviously didn’t come to the same conclusion as me as to what instigated this legislative change.

To me, this is CLEARLY implemented because of what we’re learning about sexual abuse within religious institutions. Not many, if any of these were reported within 12 months because of the age and fear of the victims. And the people who committed these vile acts knew this, which is why they’re only now being brought to justice.

We’re not talking about crimes that happened 60 years ago – we’re talking about crimes committed as recently as 1985. They were kids then – that means their might be victims of child sexual abuse as young as early-30s. You probably work with them.

I would say there is ENORMOUS community benefit in allowing these people to access justice. Your twisting of the story to suggest otherwise is incredulous.

To IrishPete – I largely agree with you about legislative change implemented retrospectively. But as you’ve gone onto say, we’re talking about Statute of Limitations. It’s nowhere near as outrageous as retrospective changes to what constitutes a crime.

bd84 2:29 pm 30 Nov 13

Retrospective law changes often don’t stand up if challenged in higher courts, especially when laws were in place for such a long time, so I’ll waiting until it withstand a challenge test before being happy.

Having said that would there really be a community benefit from trying a crime that could have occurred 60 years ago?

IrishPete 11:36 am 30 Nov 13

Good work only 28 years late.

Generally though, retrospective legislation is a bad thing, but I don’t think many will complain about this one.

Other media have described the Statute of Limitations as a “loophole”. These things were never loopholes – someone deliberately and consciously put a 12-month SOL on these offences at the time.

I’m not sure there should be a SOL on anything – not even a parking ticket. It might be cheap justice, but is it justice?

IP

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