DEAR ABBY: I'm writing about a recent letter signed "No Justice Served in California." I am a police lieutenant who has been involved in the investigation of child molesters for the past 10 years, and I want you and your readers to know the following about child molesters:
Research, literature in the field and my personal experience have shown that child molesters usually commit many sex crimes involving many victims. Unlike other crimes, delayed disclosure of sexual abuse is the rule -- not the exception. It is common for victims to wait weeks, months or even years before disclosing their abuse. Many states provide for this in their laws that cover statutes of limitations (how long after the crime is committed the offender can be prosecuted).
In Texas, offenders can usually be prosecuted for child sexual abuse for a period of 10 years after the crime is committed, unless they leave the state during that 10-year period. In that instance, the time the offender is absent from the state does not count against the 10-year limit. A few years ago, I was involved in the successful prosecution of a father who molested his daughter when she was a teen-ager. She was married and a law student when she finally disclosed the abuse, 12 years after it happened.
Please tell victims of sexual abuse that it is never too late to tell. The criminal justice system must make every attempt to bring these offenders to justice, no matter how much time has passed. -- LT. BILL WALSH, DALLAS POLICE DEPARTMENT
DEAR LT. WALSH: Thank you for an important letter. All too often victims of sexual abuse are reluctant to speak up because they are frightened or blame themselves for what happened. They are unable to acknowledge that an adult would willfully hurt them, and assume the responsibility for their abuse, which leaves them afraid, ashamed and psychologically isolated. Disclosing the abuse and identifying the perpetrator can be a critical step in the healing process of the victim.