Sex crime victim fights to eliminate statute of limitations

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – “It’s so hard to come out and say something,” said Brett Hudson, closing his eyes as he spoke.

The Wichita man waited eight years to report a family member for sexual abuse.

“It was at my house in my bedroom,” said Hudson. “It was constant for a three year period.”

But by the time he came forward, it was too late to prosecute.

That was in 2006, when the Kansas statute of limitations for most sex crimes was just five years.

In 2013, the Kansas Legislature extended that to 10 years for molestation and eliminated the time limit to prosecute rapes and aggravated criminal sodomy.

But the law is not retroactive so victims like Hudson still have no recourse.

“I kind of felt like the state kind of let me down,” said Hudson.

He doesn’t think any sex crime should have a statute of limitations, and some lawmakers agree.

House Bill 2306 was proposed in February to allow civil lawsuits “as a result of childhood sexual abuse” to be filed “at any time,” but the measure did not have enough support to even get a hearing.

“The risk is, as we go out in time, witnesses can become deceased, other materials be aged,” said state Senator Rick Wilborn, R-McPherson. “It provides a little broader window for swatting, falsely accusing.”

Especially, prosecutors say, when there is no physical evidence, as in the case of fondling.

“DNA comes from blood, semen and saliva,” said District Attorney Marc Bennett. “Occasionally you get touch DNA, but not very often.”

Then the case can be a “he said-she said” situation, with memories fading over time.

“If it’s true, it’s one of the most heinous things to happen to a human being,” said Bennett. “On the flip side, if it’s not true, it’s a hell of a thing to be accused of and not be in a position to defend yourself.”

Ironic, Hudson says, because he never forgets.

“I am 38 years old, and I still have dreams,” said Hudson. “And they’re colorful dreams. I can tell you what happened every time I was molested.”

Just like his case, many of those tied to sexual abuse by priests long ago also cannot be tried in court.

“And that’s what all victims want is their chance to tell their story,” said Vickie Pennick, a Wichita family therapist who counsels Hudson.

She says not getting justice can make it harder for victims to heal.

Hudson believes the abuse he suffered has affected his relationships.

He has never married or had children.

“So it’s more about them getting their voice back, their power back and feeling good about themselves,” said Pennick.

That’s what Hudson is doing now, fighting to change the law and the future for other victims.

“It’ll help me to have peace of mind that it gives everybody else a voice.”

Digital Extra

District Attorney Marc Bennett explains how the statute of limitations has changed over the years, and what starts the clock ticking on the time limit.

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