In some states, if you were molested by an adult when you were a child, you can’t report sexual abuse decades later. For example, even though former North Carolina Episcopal priest Howard White Jr. admitted in 1974 that he raped a 14-year old boy in Providence, Rhode Island, no one reported the sexual abuse to police at the time. Now it’s too late for prosecutors in the State of Rhode Island to seek justice, because of that state’s statute of limitations on felony child sexual abuse. You can read the story about Rev. White here.
Every state has different statutes of limitations in criminal and civil cases that define when you can report sexual abuse.
Fortunately for us in North Carolina our state has no criminal statute of limitations for felony child sexual abuse (that determines when you must report the sexual abuse). So even though Rhode Island has thrown up its hands, that same former priest Howard White Jr. is currently being investigated by the Waynesville, North Carolina Police Department. The potential charges? That he raped two of our law firm’s clients between 1984 and 1985 when they were teenagers.
Anyone with knowledge about former Rev. White’s conduct with children is welcome to contact Detective Chris Chandler at (828) 456-5363.
Why do victims wait so long to come forward? Often the abuse happens when they are most vulnerable. Victims often come from dysfunctional families where there is financial insecurity, violence and substance abuse. They are targeted because they are eager to have adult friends and also because they are not likely to tell anyone what happened.
Vulnerable kids are less likely to have someone to tell, and less likely to be believed when they do tell. Sexual predators are usually the nicest people you will ever meet. They are so nice, it’s hard for people to take the word of a child over them.
More and more, survivors of childhood sexual assault are willing to take the brave step of calling a lawyer. Often if it happened many years ago there is nothing I can do on the civil side BUT but I refer victims to law enforcement and there is actually something that can be done by the police.
Some law enforcement officials aren’t sympathetic, but many are. Many police departments and sheriff’s offices have victim advocates on staff. These victim advocates often receive regular training and are there to answer your questions.
So, if you were to victim of a childhood sexual assault, or of childhood sexual abuse in North Carolina, go ahead – call the police or sheriff’s department in the town or county where the abuse occurred. They will likely investigate it. Don’t worry that you are too late. You are not alone! Many victims of childhood sexual abuse have to heal for years before they are ready to come forward. That is WHY we have no statute of limitations on this crime in N.C.
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