Reps. Pittman, Presnell and Speciale’s votes betray survivors of sexual abuse

On Wednesday the NC House overwhelmingly voted to lengthen the time period during which survivors of child sexual abuse can sue perpetrators for damages. Only 10 House members did not back the measure, which would extend the statute of limitations from 21 to 38 years of age. Those 10 members included Representatives Larry Pittman, Michele Presnell, and Mike Speciale, who have a demonstrated track record of failing to stand with survivors of sexual abuse.

For example, Presnell and Speciale also attempted to block an amendment that clarified legal ambiguities for survivors of what the law defines as “date rape.” Pittman did not vote either way on the amendment, despite being present in the chamber. The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Chaz Beasley, “better protect[s] victims that have been drugged without their knowledge.” No Republicans gave a substantive reason for their attempt to block protections for survivors of rape. Fortunately, Beasley’s amendment, which was inspired by a rape survivor who found the legal ambiguity an impediment to justice, passed despite Republican efforts.

In yet another display of contempt for rape survivors, Pittman is a sponsor of a bill designed to bolster protections for UNC students accused of sexual misconduct. Even as study after study confirms that false rape allegations are incredibly rare, legislators like Pittman want to spend time and tax dollars defending perpetrators instead of surivors.

To add insult to injury, Pittman, Presnell, and Speciale voted for the 2018 Republican budget that denied the NC Department of Justice’s request for funding to clear the backlog of sexual assault forensic evidence kits. They abandoned tens of thousands of survivors of sexual assault in yet another bad-faith act.

North Carolina needs to support the people whom the system has failed. Yesterday, these Republicans weren’t enough to stop that from happening.