- Associated Press - Thursday, February 14, 2019

MADRID (AP) - Spanish campaigners on Thursday delivered a petition with more than half a million signatures to the national parliament in Madrid demanding an extension of the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases.

Many alleged child abusers in church, state and sports institutions have gone unpunished because their alleged crimes were reported only many years later by their victims, the organizers of the event said.

Miguel Hurtado, a spokesman for victims’ group Stolen Childhood Association, said the 15-year statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases should begin to run only after an alleged victim reaches 50 years of age.

Currently, it begins after an alleged victim turns 18. The Spanish government has proposed to raise that to 30.

Hurtado said he initially wanted the statute of limitations for child sex crimes to be scrapped, but legal experts told him that would be unconstitutional.

With Spain poised to hold a snap general election, Hurtado said it was too late for the current parliament to take any measures.

“It’s not going to happen,” he told The Associated Press. But, “we want political parties to include (the measure) in their election manifestos. That way, it becomes locked in.”

Hurtado was the first person to accuse a Spanish Benedictine monk of sexual abuse, in 1999. Nine others later came forward with stories about alleged abuse that occurred decades ago.

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