The Editorial Board, Standardize sex-crime law, The Times Tribune

The Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal has resulted in several legal reforms in Pennsylvania, including expanded and clearer reporting requirements and a pending effort to eliminate the statute of limitations for such crimes.

Those changes are in response not just to the circumstances of Mr. Sandusky’s crimes, but to research that has produced a better understanding of the obstacles faced by surviving victims.

Now, the Sandusky case is one in a series of high-profile cases involving an array of criminally and civilly alleged sex crimes. Most recently, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert pleaded not guilty Tuesday to alleged financial crimes underlying his alleged cover-up of a long-ago incident involving a minor. Allegations of sex crimes also have been made in recent years against Bill Cosby and reality TV personality Josh Duggar.

Such crimes usually are under state jurisdiction. Nevada increased its statute of limitations for sexual abuse allegations from four to 20 years following the Cosby allegations.

Congress should use its power of the purse to spur reforms by making federal law enforcement funding contingent upon states upgrading their reporting laws and statutes of limitations on sex crimes. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada plans to introduce such a bill; Congress should pass it.

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