ELLSWORTH — The statute of limitations for reporting sexual assaults will prevent a potential case involving a priest or pastor from being prosecuted, according to District Attorney Matt Foster.
“I tried to see if the United States Attorney’s Office would be able to prosecute, but they didn’t think they could prosecute the case either,” Foster said.
Hancock County Sheriff’s Det. Stephen McFarland last week took a complaint from a New Jersey man who reported sexual assaults were committed against him between 1978 and 1980 in Dedham.
The statute of limitations is “complex,” the detective said. “It depends on the charge, the age of victim at the time, the date of offense and laws in effect at the time.”
Foster said “basically we cannot prosecute a late report that is alleged to have occurred prior to Oct. 9, 1980 for GSA [gross sexual assault] of a child under 16.”
Whether the accused has been out of state for any period of time during the statute of limitations is another factor, Foster said. For example, any time a defendant spent out of state after the alleged crime, can be added to the statute of limitation to extend it up to an additional five years.
“There are other factors, including the age of the alleged victim, the age of the alleged offender, and the alleged conduct,” Foster said.
A spokesman for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center said most victims never make any formal report. Others who do may wait weeks, months or years.