HOUSTON – Many bills are being considered by lawmakers in Austin.
House Bill 2071 would change how crimes against children are prosecuted. It would get rid of the statute limitations for victims of rape and sexual assault.
A woman named Rhonda is working with state leaders to get the bill passed. She says victims of rape should be able to come forward when they are ready, knowing the law is there to protect them.
“It is time that the truth be told, and I be set free because I have been carrying a burden for a very long time,” Rhonda said.
For the first time in 20 years, Rhonda is sharing what she says happened to her when she was just a little girl.
“When I was 14, I began to be abused. I made the initial outcry for help,” she said.
Rhonda says the abuse continued for several years. Now, she is a wife and mother of two.
“When I was finally in a position to break away, I had to process what had happened,” she said.
Earlier this year, Rhonda says she filed a report with the police only to learn the crimes that happened to her were out of the statute.
“I have my proof. I have what I need but I don’t have any rights and it shouldn’t matter when it happened. It should matter when it happened and can I prove it,” Rhonda said.
Attorney Joe Schreiber represents Rhonda and says the statute of limitations changed over the years.
“The statute of limitations in the civil suit for aggravated sexual assault and aggravated rape of a child what’s changed in 2019 to go from 15 years to a 30-year statute limitation,” Schreiber said.
Attorney Joe Schreiber also spoke about the previous law, “In 2019, the civil statute of limitations for sexual assault of a child was expanded to 30 years, but only going forward. This means that if a child is raped in 2021, they have until 2051 to bring the lawsuit. However, if a child was raped in 1991 or 2001, they cannot bring the lawsuit. Rep. Ann Johnson’s bill, HB 2071 eliminates the statute of limitations for a civil suit for sexual assault of a child to bring it into line with the criminal law which has no statute of limitations for sexual assault of a child,” Schreiber said.
State Representative Ann Johnson who represents District 134 is fighting for victim rights and working to pass house bill 2071.
“House bill 2071 recognizes the vulnerability of child abuse victims and the fact that they may not recognize their abuse or disclosure or identify until a later point in life. Our bill tracks what is happening in the criminal code which says if you’re a victim of child abuse there’s an unlimited statute limitation and we want that to apply to the civil court as well,” she said.
Rhonda says so many others are victims, and this bill would bring them justice.
“We just have to get that bill to the floor and get it passed into law so that many people have the opportunity for their voices to be heard,” she said.
House Bill 2071 is currently pending in the committee. Rhonda is encouraging people to contact their local representatives and spread the word about House Bill 2071.
To learn more about House Bill 2071, click here.
To learn more about Rhonda’s story and how you can support her, click here.