Friday, September 22, 2006

Longer Statute of Limitations for Child Sex Abuse

Lt. Governor Kerry Healey yesterday signed St.2006, c.303, amending MGL c.266, s.63 by increasing the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution of child sexual abuse from 15 to 27 years. If the victim is “under the age of sixteen at the time such crime is committed, the period of limitation for prosecution shall not commence until the victim has reached the age of sixteen or the violation is reported to a law enforcement agency, whichever occurs earlier,” so a victim could potentially not report the crime until they are 43 years old. The law also tightens reporting and supervision requirements for convicted sex offenders. More information is available from the Springfield Republican.

The new law does not change the statute of limitations for civil suits for damages in sexual abuse cases. That law, MGL c. 260 s. 4C, provides that suits must be brought “within three years of the acts alleged to have caused an injury or condition or within three years of the time the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered that an emotional or psychological injury or condition was caused by said act, whichever period expires later.” More information is available at Statutes of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse in Civil Cases.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Stem Cell Research Regulation Controversy

Last year, the legislature passed c.27 of 2005, An Act Enhancing Regenerative Medicine in the Commowealth, over the Governor’s veto. This law says, in part:
  • Section 8 (b) No person shall knowingly create an embryo by the method of fertilization with the sole intent of donating the embryo for research.

This week, the Public Health Council passed 105 CMR 960, a regulation ostensibly under that law, which some feel has the effect of altering the scope of the law. The section in question says:

  • 960.005 (A) No person shall knowingly create embryos or pre-implantation embryos by the method of fertilization with the sole intent of using the embryo for research.

According to the Boston Globe, “The rules adopted Tuesday by the state Public Health Council generated widespread concern among scientists who expressed concern that the regulations could subject them to criminal penalties for certain activities used in human embryonic stem cell research.” Researchers are concerned that the change from the word “donating” in the law to “using” in the regulation limits their ability to conduct research, and opens them up to criminal liability under the law.

For more information on the controversy, see Kaiser Network’s Massachusetts Council's New Regulations on Embryonic Stem Cell Research Spark Controversy Among State Legislators.
For more on Stem Cell Research, see Mass. Law About Stem Cell Research.