Police to investigate claim of sexual abuse 41 years ago
by Rachael Griffin
rgriffin@annistonstar.com
Nov 23, 2012 | 6746 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Authorities are investigating recent complaints from two Anniston residents who say they were sexually abused as children 41 years ago.

A division of the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the reports from siblings claiming two family members sexually molested them on several occasions in 1971. The female victim, who is now 46, was 6 years old when the alleged abuse began. The male victim is now 51 years old and was 12 at the time he was allegedly abused.

Steve Robertson, a sex crimes investigator for the Calhoun-Cleburne Children’s Center, says this isn’t the first such case he’s looked into decades after the alleged abuse.

“It’s not unusual, I’ve had cases come forward from 25 years ago,” Robertson said.

Robertson said he is unsure why the victims waited so long to come forward in this particular case. He explained that allowing so much time to pass before reporting a crime doesn’t make it easier to investigate, but the facts remain the same.

Normally when a child molestation case is brought to Robertson, the Department of Human Resources is also contacted and the child is referred to the Calhoun-Cleburne Children’s Center. Since the victims are now adults, the process is shortened and Robertson can immediately begin his investigation.

Robertson said he is gathering information from those involved and narrowing down the exact crime allegedly committed. He said the abuse allegedly began when the victims went to live with their grandmother for the summer. The alleged suspects are the victims’ uncles, one of whom is a registered sex offender, Robertson said.

Years can make the little details of an incident, such as the exact date or time, somewhat hazy for victims. Robertson’s investigative experiences have taught him when someone goes through a traumatic experience like this that the event “still stays with them in their memory.” It’s his job to piece together the rest of the missing information.

Once Robertson has completed his investigation, he will present his findings to the District Attorney’s Office. From there, the DA will research statutes of limitations on similar cases.

“The variables are going to be the children’s ages at the time and the alleged perpetrators’ ages at the time of the offense,” Robertson said.

According to state law, there is no statute of limitations for any sexual offense involving a victim 16 years of age or younger, meaning the case can be prosecuted no matter how much time has passed since the alleged crime. However, this section of the law applies only to cases that occurred after January 1985. Therefore, prosecutors will likely examine any statutes of limitations which may have been in place while the alleged abuse transpired in 1971.

Even with the amount of time lapsed, Robertson said he is optimistic about the investigation.

“We’ve been pretty successful getting convictions on sexual assault cases,” Robertson said.

Staff Writer Rachael Griffin: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RGriffin_Star.
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Police to investigate claim of sexual abuse 41 years ago by Rachael Griffin
rgriffin@annistonstar.com

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