ORLANDO, Fla. – Donna’s Law, a bill that does away with the statute of limitations for sexual assaults involving victims who are minors, was recently signed into Florida law by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Sen. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) sponsored the bill in the Senate to help people like Orlando resident Donna Hedrick, who was sexually abused by a high school choral teacher in the early 1970s.
Hedrick kept the painful secret to herself for decades, long past the four years victims between 16 and 17 years old have to report a sexual assault.
“I was two weeks past my 15th birthday,” Hedrick told News 6 in November. “From now on if someone abuses children sexually, they will never stop looking over their shoulder. Somebody is going to come after them someday.”
Come July 1, the formerly complicated guidelines for youth to report sexual assaults will be done away with.
“This is a major win for survivors and shows the true power of speaking out and sharing your story. This piece of legislation started as a grassroots effort and is proof that the Florida Legislature hears your voices, and that change is made by people who show the strength to come forward and fight to protect victims,” Stewart said in a news release.
Now, survivors will be able to seek justice regardless of when they speak out.
“Over the years, time limitations have continued to expand for victims, but the time has finally come for them to be removed altogether for minors. This is just the right thing to do, and I thank my colleagues in both chambers for listening to the experiences and being a part of this positive change for the future,” Stewart said.