What a scandalous week for America, following the YouTube video shocker of the “Texas Judge William Adams Beating Daughter”. Adams’ ex-wife and daughter Hillary told the press that this used to be frequent in their home prior to the divorce, and is due to an addiction, and a “family secret” of sorts. Yet, this still-presiding Family Court Judge in Texas will not be facing criminal charges, as the Texas statute of limitations for felony injury to a child is five years. Hillary told CNN that she is now 23 years old, and the incident occurred seven years ago when she was 16.
In response to the public outrage, the The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct hasissued a public statement, asking the public to stop filing complaints, as they were overwhelmed and are already investigating. So far, the only action taken was a judicial conduct probe over the incident, and the temporary reassignment of nearly 500 Child protective Services cases on the judge’s Docket for the next two weeks. As we see it right now, a Judge who has no qualms about beating his disabled daughter, also gets to decide who is a more fit parent, in a Court of Law. Historically, the CJC rarely suspends a Judge, and it takes a lot for them to turn their backs on one of their ‘own’. Since there won’t be any criminal charges, and the Texas State Rules of Conduct haven’t been violated in the Courtroom, I predict that there will be no findings against this Judge.
Why should murder be the only criteria for unlimited statute of limitations? (New York Code, Section 30.10 – 2(a) A prosecution for a class A felony may be commenced at any time;) After the victim is dead, they go to a better place, and God provides them with the peace. However, the millions of victims who are left alive and suffering deserve closure. They can only put their pain to rest if there is prosecution and retribution. Statute of limitations are a cruel means of limiting the rights of the victims, by purging of cases. In this cases, Hillary clearly articulated her fears of posting the video sooner. She feared retaliation of an already angry and abusive father. How many other crimes go unprosecuted because the victims fear retaliation?
The statute of limitations for every other felony outside of a class A is 5 years both in Texas and New York. How does that help keep society safe? Psychologists have researched the effects of unresolved trauma, leading to victims who oftentimes act out and become abusers themselves (Sgroi, 1989) . Can America afford a future generation of criminals and untreated mental illness? This epidemic is of mass failures in due diligence which is impossible for so many victims, and laws must be changed to consider the ramifications. Consider victims who have nobody to report to, because they are actually married to a police officer. Studies have consistently proven that domestic violence is 2 to 4 times more common in police families than in the general population (Women for Justice). Children who are survivors of sexual abuse oftentimes struggle with severe PTSD and depression and are mentally unable to come to terms with the crime until adulthood. This is different than the much argued case of repressed memories, as it is a long and emotional journey for a victim to wish to press charges.
Testifying about a crime can be cathartic and is most often the only prescription for healing in heinous crimes. Why should a murder be the only felony that can be prosecuted anytime later, when the victim is not even there to testify anymore? In situations of coercion and failure to report abuse for fear of retaliation, the Siliven v. Ind. Dep’t of Child Servs., case makes a good example of the law. (No. 10-2701, UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT, 635 F.3d 921; 2011 U.S. App.). Quote, “There is evidence indicating that defendants coerced [the mother] by threatening to place [the child] in foster care if she did not cooperate. In the context of Fourth Amendment seizures involving official coercion, we have noted that “[a] threat becomes more coercive as the cost of non-compliance increases relative to the cost of compliance.” (Kernats v. O’Sullivan, 35 F.3d 1171, 1179 (7th Cir. 1994). Here, it is difficult to overstate the cost of non-compliance—losing custody of one’s child, even temporarily.” How can a parent make that grueling decision and protect a child from abuse, if the retaliation will be foster care, or a lengthy custody battle with an already well-connected powerful government official? The choices are none, and the statute of limitations are doomed to be a perpetual failure.
Virginia recently extended the Statute of Limitations to 25 years after the victim’s 18th birthday, for civiil suits. This courageous bill will hopefully lead to more states following in the near future. Although civil suits remain at the expense of the plaintiff, it may help pave the way for an extensions in criminal cases for the future. “The only potential misuse would be someone claiming to have been abused when they were not,” Quayle said. “And they would be put to the same evidentiary tests that every plaintiff faces.” Senator Frederick Quayle, Republican of Suffolk Virginia sponsored this bill (SB 1145). “The only potential misuse would be someone claiming to have been abused when they were not,” Quayle said. “And they would be put to the same evidentiary tests that every plaintiff faces.” with this logic, we can do more to make the world a better place. Hopefully in New York, the Markey Bill can be reignited and voted into law for good.