"We don't have a statute of limitations on homicide," Jerry O'Neill said. "Why should we have one on child sex offenses?"
O'Neill is a former federal prosecutor who has also successfully sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington on behalf of 50 victims of child sex abuse. O'Neill says many victims don't come forward until well into their adulthood.
"They have not been able to for so many years because of the stigma, because of the relationship with the person, or simply because they felt a necessity to keep it a deep, dark secret," he said.
Under current law, Vermont victims must report child sex crimes before they're 24, or 10 years from the offense. After that, their abusers cannot be prosecuted.
"What the Victim's Network has to say is you cannot even report it. We can do nothing if you are past the age of 24," said Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham County.
Senators seeking a change gave preliminary approval to a bill Thursday that would allow child victims to report allegations of sex assault, lewd and lascivious conduct, and sexual exploitation until they're 40-years-old.
"Forty is not a magic number," said Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington County.
But Sears-- who introduced the bill-- calls it a compromise between what's on the books and doing away with a time limit all together.
"As a criminal defense attorney I struggled with this particular issue," said Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia County.
Benning was the sole senator who voted against the measure in committee. He argues waiting until 40 opens the door to doubt.
"Chances are fairly good that their memory will be somewhat challenged by that length of time," Benning said.
"It's always more difficult to prosecute an older case," O'Neill said.
But O'Neill and other supporters say upping the age limit does not change the state's burden of proof in a criminal case.
"Remember that this does not guarantee that there will be any kind of prosecution because there will still be evidence that needs to be collected. There will still be a case that needs to be made," White said.
On Friday the Senate is expected to give the proposal final approval and hand it over to the House.
Monday, March 10 2014 2:18 PM EDT2014-03-10 18:18:35 GMT
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has a new name and logo.The Waterbury-based company announced Monday it has changed its name to Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. Shareholders approved the change at the Company'sMore >>
The Waterbury-based compnay announced Monday it has changed its company name to Keurig Green Mountain, Inc.More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 12:56 PM EDT2014-03-10 16:56:54 GMT
The spring issue of "4 Legs & a Tail" has hit news stands. Stories include getting your pet adjusted to a new baby, advice on keeping pets safe during golf season and Vermont's first Dog and Pony Show.More >>
The spring issue of "4 Legs & a Tail" has hit news stands. Editor Tim Hoehn visited the Morning Show to share a few of the cover stories that might interest pet lovers.More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 12:44 PM EDT2014-03-10 16:44:18 GMT
A Plattsburgh man is facing a slew of charges in connection with a car accident last fall.The crash happened October 24th on Mason Street in Schuyler Falls. Investigators say 31-year-old Brad Rovito wasMore >>
A Plattsburgh man is facing a slew of charges in connection with a car accident last fall.More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 12:24 PM EDT2014-03-10 16:24:42 GMT
Vermont police and policy-makers are gathering Monday to discuss the problem of drugged driving.Under current Vermont law it's easier to convict a driver accused of being drunk behind the wheel than stoned.More >>
For those under the influence of drugs, there is no simple standard or field test like the common blood-alcohol content measure.More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 12:12 PM EDT2014-03-10 16:12:31 GMT
Authorities in northern New York are reminding the public about a missing teenager two years after his disappearance.Eighteen year-old Colin Gillis vanished on March 11, 2012. He was last seen walkingMore >>
Authorities in northern New York are reminding the public about a missing teenager two years after his disappearance.More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 11:39 AM EDT2014-03-10 15:39:37 GMT
Students at Dartmouth College say the school needs to do more to embrace diversity on campus. The group of students sent administrators what they call a "freedom budget," decrying racism, classism andMore >>
Students at Dartmouth College say the school needs to do more to embrace diversity on campus.More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 11:22 AM EDT2014-03-10 15:22:31 GMT
For nearly four years family and friends of a murdered Northeast Kingdom woman have wondered if the culprits would ever be caught. Monday afternoon two of the three men accused of the crime -- will beMore >>
Richard Fletcher, 27, and his brother Keith Baird, 33, are scheduled to appear Monday afternoon at the Caledonia Superior Court in St. Johnsbury.More >>