BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - A Palm Beach County woman who says she is a survivor of child sex abuse is now in the battle of her life for future victims. This, after a statute of limitations ran out, keeping her from prosecuting her alleged abuser - her own cousin.
After six years of silence, Ashley Foster finally found the courage to say this: "I had just turned 13 and my cousin started to molest me." Sexual abuse - on a weekly basis, she says, at the hands of her cousin - who is ten years older. "It's out," she said." Ok. Now what are we going to do?"
She went to counseling and then to the Boynton Beach Police Department. Ashley and her parents worked with investigators to press charges against her cousin - but it was already too late. "I finally get the courage to say something and nothing at all can be done about it," she said.
State law says charges against those who molest children aged 12 or older have to be brought within three years of the alleged abuse. For Ashley, the Statue of Limitations had run out just 60 days earlier.
Now this young woman is pushing to change that state law . She recently went before a senate committee in Tallahassee to tell her story. "They had all the evidence they needed, but yet they still couldn't do anything," she told lawmakers.
The panel voted unanimously to push Senate Bill 494 forward. "We're sorry for that and hopefully we'll fix it for victims going forward," said one lawmaker.
Ashley will never be able to press charges against her cousin. But she and her family are now fighting for future victims of sex abuse. "She's doing something that's going to help someone else or other people in the future," said Salah Foster, Ashley's father.
Her battle - both legislative and very personal - is not over yet. "Even if it's not going to help me, I can do something," said Ashley.
If approved, this measure would remove the statute of limitations for bringing charges against people who abuse children under the age of 16. The bill goes before the full legislature in early March. Ashley and family will be there for the vote.