Statutes of Limitations:  Myths and Facts
What the media won’t tell you.
​June 25, 2019


In recent years, we’ve learned that some heinous crimes were committed.   Folks ranted and raved, demanding prosecutions.  But prosecution is impossible when the statutes of limitations have expired.  Some lawmakers tried to change the statutes retroactively.  But ex post facto laws are unconstitutional.

A statute is a law.  A statute of limitations (SOL) is a law that limits the time in which courts can begin legal action in that case.  Some statutes involve crimes such as rape, robbery, fraud, assault, etc.  Others involve civil issues such as contracts.  The limits vary by jurisdiction and type of crime.  Once that time has passed, no one can sue or prosecute anyone for any offense under that statute.  Some crimes, such as murder, carry no statute of limitations.

  • In 2003, the Boston Globe exposed hundreds of  Catholic priests who sexually abused children for decades. 
    That work generated a landslide of similar cases throughout the world.

  • In 2014, entertainer Bill Cosby was accused of drugging, raping, and sexually assaulting dozens of women. 
    The accusations dated back to 1965.  

  • In 2018, a Pennsylvania grand jury released the names of hundreds of Catholic priests also accused of child sexual abuse. 

  • Last week, writer E. Jean Carroll stated that Donald Trump raped her in a New York City department store fitting room in 1995.   More than a dozen other women have also accused Trump of rape and sexual assault.

Most of the priests can’t  be prosecuted because the statutes of limitations have expired.

Only one of the accusations against Cosby could be prosecuted – that of Andrea Constand – because the SOL has expired on the others.  Cosby is now in prison in Pennsylvania.

Trump can’t be prosecuted for the Carroll incident because the SOL expired in 2000. 

In 2006, New York state enacted a new law lifting the SOL from all rape cases.  There was talk in the etherverse about prosecuting Trump under the new SOL.  No.  That does not and can not apply to any rapes which occurred before that SOL became law.  Donald Trump can never be prosecuted for that rape. 

In 2018, the Pennsylvania legislature tried to pass a law extending the SOL for child sexual abuse by a few years so that the priests in the existing cases could be prosecuted and their victims could sue for damages.  No. No person can be charged or sued for any crimes in which the SOL has expired.

Yes, I know it’s horrifying that predators get away with their crimes.  But once the statute has expired, we can’t do anything about it.  We can’t create justice for these victims because ALL retroactive legislation is unconstitutional.

Ex post facto is a Latin term meaning “after the fact”.  In  the US Constitution, Article I, Section 9, Clause 3 prohibits the federal government from enacting ex post facto laws.  Article I, Section 10, Clause 1 prohibits the states from doing so. 

That means that if the statute of limitations prohibits prosecution or lawsuits today, they can't pass any law making them legal tomorrow.  Any change in the statute of limitations would only apply to abuses which occur AFTER the new statute takes effect.

Every American adult, especially legislators, is supposed to know this stuff.
But our schools do a great job of producing politically, socially, and economically ignorant citizens because they don't want you to know how to control your government.  And you’ll never see this explanation in the mainstream media. 

Most “journalists” don’t know this stuff because they went to the same schools you did.

So beat them at their own game. 
Learn how your government works.
Then lobby for the changes you want.

I just hope we can prosecute those responsible for the child neglect and abuse in our concentration camps before it’s too late.

For More Information:
Read the Constitution
Learn how your government works
Learn how to lobby for change
Statute of Limitations 

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Patricia A. O'Malley
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