silentlambs - It's time to protect children. It's time to stop being a silent lamb.
Home Assistance Personal Experiences Education Press Donate/Become a SL Member Sitemap silentlambs Store


Untitled Document
California lifts Statue-A sad day
California has lifted the statue for long term presecution of sexoffenders-hundreds and perhaps thousands of sex offenders will go free as a result.
Hundreds of sex offenders to go free
Supreme Court ruling will force release of at least half a dozen convicted in San Mateo County, officials say
By Emily Fancher, STAFF WRITER

San Mateo County prosecutors will be forced to dismiss child molestation charges against six to 10 convicted sex offenders following a U.S. Supreme Court decision Thursday.

The decision struck down the California law that retroactively erased the statute of limitations on certain sexual molestation cases.

Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said the child molesters will walk free -- with no way of tracking them.

"This decision will open the door to sex offenders," he said.

The decision means thousands of sexual predators -- and suspected offenders awaiting trial -- will be released throughout the nation. In neighboring Santa Clara County, at least 100 molestation cases are affected, according to prosecutors there.

The law that put these offenders behind bars allowed prosecutions for crimes committed long ago, particularly cases involving Catholic clergy.

Wayne Presley of Foster City is one of the survivors who is devastated by the decision. The former priest Presley accuses of molesting him, Patrick O'Shea, is in jail awaiting trial for allegedly molesting several young boys in the 1970s, but will be released.

"We've been afforded a big slap in the face," said Presley of the ruling. "I'm in total shock."

Presley, who is 44 and came forward nine years ago, said he was molested by O'Shea while he was a student at San Francisco's Mission Delores Grammar School. He said he's lost his marriage and his house and nearly his mind as a result of the abuse.

"I'm just sorry others will be afraid to come forward now," he said. "The truth won't be told."

Wagstaffe said no pending cases of accused Catholic clergy -- including the case of a Daly City priest who was arrested two weeks ago after a 20-year-old woman accused him of molesting her in 1994 and 1995 -- will be affected.

Though Wagstaffe said he understood the court's reasoning on a theoretical level, the picture looked different from "down in the trenches." His deputies will have to call up victims and tell them their molesters will be released.

"That's not the Ivory Tower," said Wagstaffe. "That's reality, and it makes for a very sad day."

California passed a law in 1994 lifting the statute of limitations -- dates after which no prosecutions could occur -- on certain sex crimes. Instead, the law requires only that charges be filed no more than one year after the victim files a police report, no matter how long after the abuse upon which the report is filed.

But the high court's 5-4 vote in the case of Marion Stogner of Antioch -- charged in 1998 with having molested his daughters from 1955 to 1973 -- said the Constitution bars states from revising already-expired legal deadlines.

The law's critics had argued it's unfair to change the law so cases can be brought long after witnesses have died, memories have faded and evidence has been lost. The law's supporters had claimed child molestation victims often need many years to come to terms with their abuse, so many molesters aren't accused before statutes of limitation expire.

Terrie Light of Hayward, Northwest Coast Regional Director for Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said the ruling made her weep. "Today is a day of feeling shattered and disappointed and sad," she said, adding other clergy sex-abuse survivors all over the nation surely feel the same way.

Rick Simons, a Hayward lawyer who represents the victims in a case against a Belmont priest, Rev. Don Carter, said the Supreme Court's ruling will not change his lawsuit because it is civil.

Contra Costa County District Attorney Robert J. Kochly, whose office brought the Stogner case, said: "Obviously, we're disappointed."

"I feel bad for the victims, because this was an unusual statute but one that was a reaction to the conspiracy of silence" around child sexual abuse, he said. "It denies them justice, and in some sense, denies them closure, and that's unfortunate."

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said the ruling "will allow child molesters to escape prosecution simply because they preyed on our children years ago."

In addition to sexual-molestation cases, the ruling could apply to the war on terrorism. The Bush administration had argued the USA Patriot Act -- which retroactively withdrew statutes of limitations in terrorism cases involving hijackings, kidnappings, bombings and biological weapons -- could be in jeopardy, too.

But Thursday's majority opinion, penned by Justice Stephen Breyer -- a Californian himself -- found "this retroactive application of a later-enacted law is unfair."

Justice Anthony Kennedy dissented, joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. States should be able to act against those who prey on children, Kennedy wrote, and predators shouldn't have the comfort of knowing a date on which they've eluded justice.

Light, of SNAP, said sexual-abuse survivors are feeling outrage that their predators will evade punishment.

"There's a sense of finality, that this is it," said Light of SNAP. "That the cases are overturned, that all that progress toward justice evaporated in a couple of minutes. It is very sad."

Staff writers Erin Sherbert and Josh Richman contributed to this report.

Thursday June 26, 2003
Supreme Court ruling may set sex offenders free
Many sex offenders currently awaiting trial may be set free because of a Supreme Court ruling. Thursday, the Supreme Court overturned a California law passed in 1994 that allowed prosecution of sex crimes, years and years after they took place.

Now that the Supreme Court has called that law unconstitutional, victims of sex abuse have very little time to turn in their attackers to police.

When a victim of sexual abuse gathers enough courage to seek justice, they come to Judy Campbell. She is a victim/witness advocate, working at the Larson Justice Center. But she says the majority of victims who actually make it to her office are adults .abused years and years ago, back when they were children.

"They don't feel safe, they don't have the words. Kids just don't have the words."

Though the statute of limitations on sex crimes is 6 years, Supervising Deputy District Attorney Paul Vinegrad says he could still prosecute old cases, under a California law which changed the statute of limitations for some sex cases. That's until the Supreme Court ruled that law is unconstitutional.

That means after 6 years, it can't be prosecuted.

Vinegrad says if an abuse case happened more than 6 years ago, there's a good chance it will be thrown out. That could have a profound effect on the sex scandal in the Catholic Church, where many of the cases against priests date back decades.

Because of the decision, 2 priests in the local diocese who are currently charged with sex abuse may have their cases thrown out.

Parishioner Mary Ann Wetmore thinks a crime is still a crime, no matter how long ago it happened.

"I don't think there should be a statute of limitations."

But Father Howard Lincoln says even if the courts won't prosecute old cases, the church still has a commitment to victims of sex abuse.

"We're not going to alter zero-tolerance. They will not have a ministry in our diocese."

For those victims of sex crimes who haven't come forward, this decision means they may never have the chance to seek justice.

Vinegrad says the court's decision may also overturn the convictions made under the 1994 law, meaning the Supreme Court's ruling may set free hundreds of sex offenders in addition to the pending cases that may have to be thrown out.

"Anybody who was convicted under law can have their conviction overturned, absolutely."

Vinegrad says the only alternative now is for the state to extend the statute of limitations past 6 years, something he thinks must be done for justice to be

The New York Times 

June 27, 2003

Calif. to Drop Some Molestation Charges


Filed at 11:45 a.m. ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The state attorney general said convictions will be overturned or pending charges dropped for about 800 accused child molesters in California after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that statutes of limitations cannot be erased retroactively.

The Supreme Court on a 5-4 vote Thursday overturned the nation's only law designed to ensnare molesters who committed their crimes decades ago. Lawyers said the ruling nullifies most pending clergy sex abuse prosecutions in California.

The ruling, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said, ``will allow child molesters to escape prosecution simply because they preyed on our children years ago.''

Charges in at least eight cases have already been dropped in Santa Clara County, assistant district attorney Karyn Sinunu said. Two defendants had pleaded guilty, and another case involved a former Jesuit brother accused of molesting a boys' home resident in 1969.

``Prosecuting people for alleged violations that occurred, at least in one priest case, 50 years ago, is illegal in this country,'' Larry Guzin, a Los Angeles attorney defending about two dozen California priests under investigation. ``Never before has a state gone that far.''

The California law was challenged by 72-year-old Marion Stogner, accused of molesting his two daughters when they were children in their home in Antioch, a San Francisco suburb. His prosecution was pending the high court's decision.

The case was closely watched because of sex-abuse problems in the Roman Catholic church, but it also has implications for terrorism and other crimes.

Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the court, said the Constitution bars states from revising already-expired legal deadlines, which California did in 1994 for molestation cases.

Critics argued it was unfair to change the rules after witnesses are dead and evidence lost. Supporters of deadline changes, including the American Psychological Association, contend that child molesters aren't usually exposed in a timely manner because children are fearful of reporting it or don't know it is a crime.

Stogner's daughter, Margaret Vaughan of Mississippi, said the Supreme Court's ruling made her ``feel like I've been molested all over again.''

``I was 4 years old and I'm supposed to know the law on this?'' she said. ``I didn't even know what was happening to me was wrong.''

Stogner, who lives on the Gila River Indian Reservation near Chandler, Ariz., denied the allegations. ``Now I can die happy,'' he said.

Statutes of limitations vary by state and by crime, in some instances as short as one year for minor wrongdoing to no limit for murder.

Some states have extended their deadlines for filing charges in sex crimes, but California took the exceptional step of retroactively changing the time limit. Charges must be filed within one year after the victims file a police report.

``We believe that this retroactive application of a later-enacted law is unfair,'' Breyer wrote.

In a dissent, Justice Anthony Kennedy said California should be allowed to punish ``serious sex offenses'' against children. He was joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Prosecutor Dara Cashman said she had a good case against Stogner. ``We felt very comfortable and confident with our case,'' she said.

Stogner, a retired paper plant worker and Korean War veteran, was charged in 2001 for alleged molestations that began almost 50 years ago. Stogner's daughters said their father began molesting them when they were younger than 5 and the abuse lasted years.

Stogner's attorney, Elisa Stewart, said ``it would have been a watershed decision'' if the court would have allowed Stogner's prosecution.

``A lot of states were geared up for this,'' she said.

The Bush administration had argued that a ruling against California would threaten the USA Patriot Act, which retroactively withdrew statutes of limitations in terrorism cases involving hijackings, kidnappings, bombings and biological weapons. The Justice Department said it was reviewing the decision.

Russ Heimerich, a California Department of Corrections spokesman, said the department was reviewing the records of its 160,000 prisoners to determine which inmates should get released or reduced sentences.

Despite the ruling, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said he will still pursue subpoenaed church documents that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has resisted handing over.

``It is unfortunate that many child victims of sexual abuse will not be able to obtain justice in a criminal court,'' he said Thursday.

The archdiocese said in a statement that the court's decision does not allow defrocked priests ``to re-enter (the) ministry or to function in any way as priests.'' Since the Roman Catholic Church became embroiled in a sex-abuse scandal last year, more than 300 priests either resigned or retired because of allegations of wrongdoing.


On the Net:







NOTE:Where it is feasible,a syllabus (headnote)will be released,as is

being done in connection with this case,at the time the opinion is issued.

The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been

prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.

See United States v.Detroit Timber &Lumber Co .,200 U.S.321,337.







No.01 - 1757.Argued March 31,2003 - Decided June 26,2003


In 1993,California enacted a new criminal statute of limitations permitting prosecution for sex-related child abuse where the prior limitations period has expired if,inter alia,the prosecution is begun within one year of a victim's report to police.A subsequently added provision makes clear that this law revives causes of action barred by prior limitations statutes.


In 1998,petitioner Stogner was indicted for sex-related child abuse committed between 1955 and 1973.At the time those crimes were allegedly committed,the limitations period was three years. Stogner moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the Ex Post Facto Clause forbids revival of a previously time-barred prosecution.The trial court agreed,but the California Court of Appeal reversed.The trial court denied Stogner's subsequent dismissal motion,in which he argued that his prosecution violated the Ex Post Facto and Due Process Clauses.The Court of Appeal affirmed.


Held:A law enacted after expiration of a previously applicable limitations period violates the Ex Post Facto Clause when it is applied to revive a previously time-barred prosecution.California's law extends the time in which prosecution is allowed,authorizes prosecutions that the passage of time has previously barred,and was enacted after prior limitations periods for Stogner's alleged offenses had expired. Such features produce the kind of retroactivity that the Constitution forbids.First,the law threatens the kinds of harm that the Clause seeks to avoid,for the Clause protects liberty by preventing governments from enacting statutes with "manifestly unjust and oppressive" retroactive effects.Calder v.Bull,3 Dall.386,391.Second,the law falls literally within the categorical descriptions of ex post facto laws that Justice Chase set forth more than 200 years ago in Calder v. 2

Bull,which this Court has recognized as an authoritative account of the Clause's scope,Collins v.Youngblood,497 U.S.37,46.


It falls within the second category,which Justice Chase understood to include a new law that inflicts punishments where the party was not, by law,liable to any punishment. Third, numerous legislators, courts,and commentators have long believed it well settled that the Clause forbids resurrection of a time-barred prosecution.The Reconstruction Congress of 1867 rejected a bill that would have revived time-barred treason prosecutions against Jefferson Davis and others, passing instead a law extending unexpired limitations periods.


Roughly contemporaneous State Supreme Courts echoed the view that laws reviving time-barred prosecutions are ex post facto.Even courts that have upheld extensions of unexpired statutes of limitations have consistently distinguished situations where the periods have expired ,often using language that suggests a presumption that reviving time-barred criminal cases is not allowed.This Court has not previously spoken decisively on this matter.Neither its recognition that the Fifth Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination does not apply after the relevant limitations period has expired, Brown v.Walker,161 U.S.591,597 §598,nor its holding that a Civil War statute retroactively tolling limitations periods during the war was valid as an exercise of Congress' war powers,Stewart v.Kahn,11 Wall.493,503 §504,dictates the outcome here.Instead,that outcome is determined by the nature of the harms that the law creates,the fact that the law falls within Justice Chase's second category,and a long line of authority.Pp.3 §26.

93 Cal.App.4th 1229,114 Cal.Rptr.2d 37,reversed.


BREYER,J.,delivered the opinion of the Court,in which STEVENS,


dissenting opinion,in which REHNQUIST,C.J.,and SCALIA and THOMAS,

JJ.,joined. Cite as:539 U.S.____(2003)1


Opinion of the Court

NOTICE:This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the

preliminary print of the United States Reports.Readers are requested to

notify the Reporter of Decisions,Supreme Court of the United States,Wash-

ington,D.C.20543,of any typographical or other formal errors,in order

that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.



No.01 –1757






[June 26,2003 ]


JUSTICE BREYER delivered the opinion of the Court. California has brought a criminal prosecution after expiration of the time periods set forth in previously applicable statutes of limitations.California has done so under the authority of a new law that (1)permits resurrection of otherwise time-barred criminal prosecutions,and (2)was itself enacted after pre-existing limitations periods had expired.We conclude that the Constitution's Ex Post Facto Clause,Art.I,§10,cl.1,bars application of this new law to the present case.



In 1993,California enacted a new criminal statute of limitations governing sex-related child abuse crimes.The new statute permits prosecution for those crimes where [t]he limitation period specified in [prior statutes of limi- tations ]has expired  - provided that (1)a victim has reported an allegation of abuse to the police,(2) - there is independent evidence that clearly and convincingly corroborates the victim's allegation, -  and (3)the prosecution is begun within one year of the victim's report.1993 Cal.,§1 (codified as amended at Cal.Penal  Ann.§803(g)(West Supp.2003)).A related provision, added to the statute in 1996,makes clear that a prosecution satisfying these three conditions "shall revive any cause of action barred by [prior statutes of limitations ]."1996,§1 (codified at Cal.Penal Code Ann.§803(g)(3)(A)(West Supp.2003)).The statute thus authorizes prosecution for criminal acts committed many years beforehand "and where the original limitations period has expired" as long as prosecution begins within a year of a victim's first complaint to the police.


In 1998,a California grand jury indicted Marion Stogner,the petitioner,charging him with sex-related child abuse committed decades earlier - between 1955 and 1973.Without the new statute allowing revival of the State's cause of  action,California could not have prosecuted Stogner.The statute of limitations governing prosecutions at the time the crimes were allegedly committed had set forth a 3-year limitations period.And that period had run 22 years or more before the present prosecution was brought.


Stogner moved for the complaint's dismissal.He argued that the Federal Constitution's Ex Post Facto Clause, Art.I,§10,cl.1,forbids revival of a previously time-barred prosecution.The trial court agreed that such a revival is unconstitutional.But the California Court of Appeal reversed,citing a recent,contrary decision by the California Supreme Court,People v.Frazer,21 Cal.4th 737,982 P.2d 180 (1999),cert.denied,529 U.S.1108 (2000).


Stogner then moved to dismiss his indictment,arguing that his prosecution is unconstitutional under both the Ex Post Facto Clause and the Due Process Clause,Amdt.14, §1.The trial court denied Stogner's motion,and the Court

of Appeal upheld that denial.Stogner v.Superior Court, 93 Cal.App.4th 1229,114 Cal.Rptr.2d 37 (2001).We granted certiorari to consider Stogner's constitutional

claims.537 U.S.1043 (2002). Cite as:539 U.S.____(2003)3


Opinion of the Court II


The Constitution's two Ex Post Facto Clauses prohibit the Federal Government and the States from enacting laws with certain retroactive effects.See Art.I,§9,cl.3 (Federal Government);Art.I,§10,cl.1 (States).The law at issue here created a new criminal limitations period that extends the time in which prosecution is allowed.It authorized criminal prosecutions that the passage of time had previously barred.Moreover,it was enacted after prior limitations periods for Stogner's alleged offenses had expired. Do these features of the law,taken together, produce the kind of retroactivity that the Constitution forbids? We conclude that they do.


First,the new statute threatens the kinds of harm that, in this Court's view,the Ex Post Facto Clause seeks to avoid.Long ago the Court pointed out that the Clause protects liberty by preventing governments from enacting statutes with "manifestly unjust and oppressive" retroactive effects.Calder v.Bull,3 Dall.386,391 (1798).Judge Learned Hand later wrote that extending a limitations period after the State has assured "a man that he has become safe from its pursuit ...seems to most of us unfair and dishonest."Falter v.United States,23 F.2d 420,426 (CA2),cert.denied,277 U.S.590 (1928).In such a case,

the government has refused "to play by its own rules," Carmell v.Texas,529 U.S.513,533 (2000).It has deprived the defendant of the "fair warning,"Weaver v.Graham, 450 U.S.24,28 (1981),that might have led him to preserve exculpatory

evidence.F.Wharton,Criminal Pleading and Practice §316,p.210 (8th ed.1880)("The statute [of limitations ] is amnesty,declaring that after a certain time ...the offender shall be at liberty to return to his country ...and ...may cease to preserve the proofs of his innocence").And a Constitution that permits such an extension,by allowing legislatures to pick and choose when to act retroactively,risks both "arbitrary and potentially vindictive legislation," and erosion of the separation of powers, Weaver, supra,at 29,and n.10.See Fletcher v. Peck,6 Cranch 87,137 §138 (1810)(viewing the Ex Post Facto Clause as a protection against "violent acts which might grow out of the feelings of the moment ").


Second,the kind of statute at issue falls literally within the categorical descriptions of ex post facto laws set forth by Justice Chase more than 200 years ago in Calder v.Bull,supra - a categorization that this Court has recognized as providing an authoritative account of the scope ofthe Ex Post Facto Clause.Collins v.Youngblood,497 U.S.37,46 (1990);Carmell,supra,at 539.Drawing substantially on Richard Wooddeson's 18th-century commentary on the nature of ex post facto laws and past parliamentary abuses,Chase divided ex post facto laws into categories that he described in two alternative ways.See 529 U.S.,at 522 §524,and n.9. He wrote: "I will state what laws I consider ex post facto laws, within the words and the intent of the prohibition.


1st.Every law that makes an action done before the passing of the law,and which was innocent when done,criminal;and punishes such action.


2d.Every law that aggravates a crime,or makes it greater than it was,when committed.


3d.Every law that changes the punishment,and inflicts a greater punishment, than the law annexed to the crime, when committed.


4th.Every law that alters the legal rules of evidence, and receives less, or different, testimony,than the law required at the time of the commission of the offence, in order to convict the offender.


All these,and similar laws,are manifestly unjust and oppressive.- Calder,supra,at 390 §391 (emphasis altered from original).


In his alternative description,Chase traced these four categories back to Parliament's earlier abusive acts,as follows: Cite as:539 U.S.____(2003)5


Category 1:"Sometimes they respected the crime,by declaring acts to be treason,which were not treason,when committed."


Category 2:"[A ]t other times they inflicted punishments,where the party was not,by law,liable to any punishment."


Category 3:"[I ]n other cases,they inflicted greater punishment,than the law annexed to the offence."


Category 4:"[A ]t other times,they violated the rules of evidence (to supply a deficiency of legal proof)by admitting one witness,when the existing law required two;by receiving evidence without oath;or the oath of the wife against the husband;or other testimony, which the courts of justice would not admit." 3 Dall.,at 389 (emphasis altered from original).


The second category "including any" law that aggravates a crime,or makes it greater than it was,when committed, - id.,at 390  - describes California's statute as long as those words are understood as Justice Chase understood them  - i.e.,as referring to a statute that "inflict [s ] punishments,where the party was not,by law,liable to any punishment," id.,at 389.See also 2 R.Wooddeson,A Systematical View of the Laws of England 638 (1792)

(hereinafter Wooddeson,Systematical View)(discussing the ex post facto status of a law that affects punishment by "making therein some innovation,or creating some forfeiture or disability,not incurred in the ordinary course of law" (emphasis added)).


After (but not before)the original statute of limitations had expired,a party such as Stogner was not "liable to any punishment." California's new statute therefore "aggravated"  Stogner's alleged crime,or made it "greater than it was,when committed," in the sense that,and to the extent that,it "inflicted punishment" for past criminal conduct that (when the new lawOpinion of the Court was enacted) did not trigger any such liability.See also H. Black,American Constitutional Law §266,p.700 (4th ed. 1927)(hereinafter Black,American Constitutional Law) ("[A]n act condoned by the expiration of the statute of limitations is no longer a punishable offense").It is consequently not surprising that New Jersey's highest court long ago recognized that Chase's alternative description of second category laws "exactly describes the operation" of the kind of statute at issue here.

Home | Assistance | Personal Experiences | Education | Press | Donations/Membership | Merchandise
Guestbook | Courage Awards | Newsletter | Contact Us | Affiliates | Sitemap
Copyright © 2003 by All rights reserved.