PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - A Palm Beach County woman who says she suffered sexual abuse at the hands of her own cousin is using her story to change state law - to help protect future victims.
By the time Ashley Foster and prosecutors were ready to file charges, it was sixty days too late. The statute of limitations had just run out. That legal setback prompted Foster to take her fight to Tallahassee - to change state law.
Foster, now 22, feels like a new woman. "I'm feeling relieved, empowered," she said. "I'm feeling courageous."
It is a far cry from when she was 13, when Foster says six years of sexual abuse by own cousin began. By the time she finally told someone about it, it was two months too late to prosecute. The statue of limitations was up.
Devastated, Foster decided that fighting for future victims would become her mission. "It's all about how my case is going to help other people and what can I do to help them," she said.
With Foster's urging, Florida's House and Senate unanimously passed legislation to eliminate the current three-year statute of limitations for molesting children younger than 16. She told her story to lawmakers in Tallahassee and has also launched an online campaign on Facebook.
"It's going to happen because I'm determined to make it happen," she said. That determination has paid off, with the bill expected to be signed into law by the governor any day now.
Foster's family has been supporting her every step of the way.
"It is definitely making peace for her," said her mother, Darlene Foster. "The healing process of what a survivor goes through is amazing. The justice part would have been her time in court," she said.
'Ashley's Law', as she calls it, is actually part of a package of bills overhauling Florida's sex-offender legislation. The measures could have the governor's signature - and become law - by the end of the week
"I've been through a lot, but you know what? It was all worth it," said Foster.