Public defenders’ offices and legislators alike have additional concerns about extending
or reforming the SOLs.
273 The Division of Public Defenders in Connecticut explicates the major
concerns of most defense attorneys that if old claims are allowed to be raised, evidence would be
difficult, if not impossible, to locate, witnesses’ memories will have faded, and facts will have
274 The group cites concerns that without “any finite period of time within which a
prosecution can be brought, it may be impossible for an innocent person to fairly defend
275 Some opponents have likened the statutes that allow for delayed discovery to a witch-hunt, asserting that a victim could at any point “remember” abuse.
Despite the many detractors, this second wave of legislative reform is much more focused
on increasing the access that victims have to legal remedies than the first wave. Although the first
wave was a panacea for concerned citizens and parents, this second wave allows for more
frequent identification of sexual abusers, which could inspire more victims to come forward.
Nevertheless, the success of these new campaigns to reform the SOLs remains to be seen, as well
as the implications of such reform and what legal challenges will arise.
V. RECOMMENDED ACTION
The first wave of reforms, while making parents and the public feel safer, had a multitude
of unforeseen consequences and little empirical success.
277 The second wave of reform, however,
focused primarily on increasing the access that victims have to the justice system. Although
emphasizing increased access so that victims do not feel futile coming forward many years after
the fact is important, this second wave of reforms still focused on addressing the abuse after it
happens rather than seeking to prevent it from occurring altogether. Despite legislative reforms
aimed at punishing offenders and increasing access to the justice system, only ten percent of
childhood sexual abuse is even reported.
278 The focus of legislators and advocates should thus be
on encouraging victims to come forward and report abuse to stop it while it is happening, or even
identify the abuse before it starts for others.
A. Primary Interventions Through Education
While the legal system has made great strides in the last twenty years to address the
problem of child sexual abuse, legislative approaches should be more focused and research-based.
David Finkelhor, the Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, eloquently wrote,
“[t]he most elemental thing the criminal justice system can do about a crime is increase its
detection and disclosure and the likelihood that the offender will be arrested and prosecuted.”
The problem of childhood sexual abuse requires comprehensive solutions, coming from both the
legal and political systems as well as local communities, focusing on reducing risk factors and
increasing protective factors.
280 Thus far, the responses to the problem of child sexual abuse have
273 Id. at 106.
276 Khorram, supra note 12, at 405.
277 See infra Part III.
278 Miller, supra note 14; HAMILTON, supra note 4.
279 Finkelhor, supra note 17. Finkelhor specializes in the study of child maltreatment, victimization, and family violence, and has been
researching those issues since 1977. David Finkelhor, Ph.D., Professor, CRIMES AGAINST CHILD. RES. CTR.,
http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/researchers/finkelhor-david.html (last visited Apr. 19, 2014). The mission of the Crimes Against Children
Research Center is “to combat crimes against children by providing high quality research and statistics to the public, policy makers,
law enforcement personnel, and other child welfare practitioners.” About the CCRC, CRIMES AGAINST CHILD. RES. CTR.,
http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/about/index.html (last visited Apr. 19, 2014).
280 Sandy K. Wurtele, Preventing Sexual Abuse of Children in the Twenty-First Century: Preparing for Challenges and Opportunities,
18 J. CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE 1, 7 (2009).