How long can victims wait to report child sex abuse in W.Va.?
BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) - The investigation continued Monday into a former Beckley priest accused of sexually assaulting a young man in Pennsylvania. According to the complaint, Perry Malacaman is accused of crimes dating back more than a decade.
While the charges were filed just under Pennsylvania’s 11-year statute of limitations, in West Virginia, where Malacaman worked as a priest up until 2009, has no statute of limitations for felony sex crimes.
In fact, WVVA News found that West Virginia is just one of seven states across the country that places no timeline limitations on victims for bringing charges. And according to Scott Miller, the Exec. Dir. of the child advocacy organization ‘Just for Kids,’ it is quite common for young victims to wait.
“Sometimes they’re embarrassed. So many times it’s trauma they can’t deal with in the moment. Sometimes it’s a news event and they see ‘that really happened to me and now I can talk about it.”
But he said that waiting to bring charges is not without challenges. His organization has a team of experts trained to identify evidence that could be used in court.
“Hearsay is very challenging in terms of it’s not evidence. But evidence such as someone getting pregnant, that could be used still.”
For many sex crimes, he said there is often not a lot of physical evidence regardless of whether the crime happened a day ago or a decade ago. But training has come a long way over the years to help bring older cases to court.
Regardless of a case’s chance at success, he said it is still important for victims to talk to an expert as unresolved childhood trauma can do lasting damage.
“I see people everyday who are helped by coming forward and talking about it.”
He encourages victims weighing whether to come forward to seek a second opinion.
“It always helps to have other perspectives. With something so emotionally charged as abuse, getting other people’s perspective is very important.”
When it comes to childhood abuse, he said there are often more victims out there and one person sharing their story could help save another child at risk.
The West Virginia child abuse hotline is 1-800-352-6513.
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