End Sought to Time Limit in Sex Abuse Cases

Susan Jarreau did not remember being sexually abused until more than 10 years after it happened. By then, she found, there was little she could do about it.

Jarreau, 36, of Encino, said she was abused from the age of 6 until she was 14. After the memories surfaced in her early 20s, the wife of singer-songwriter Al Jarreau sought therapy.

But she could not file criminal charges against her abuser, because a California statute covering all crimes but murder imposes limits for prosecution ranging from two to six years from the time the act occurs.

Jarreau and her attorney, Gloria Allred, joined Assemblywoman Paula L. Boland (R-Granada Hills) at a news conference Thursday to announce legislation designed to wipe out that part of the statute dealing with sexual abuse involving children.

Boland said she introduced the bill because adults who were abused as children need to have the legal power to see their attackers punished.

In California, "a child who finally confronts those traumatic memories as an adult has lost all chance of seeing the abuser punished," Boland said. Under her bill, people 18 or older would have a year from the time they report alleged childhood sexual abuse to press charges.

"It's such a horrible crime," Jarreau added, saying that most children do not think of taking legal action. "When you're a 6-year-old, all you know is that it's yucky."

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