TALLAHASSEE — Michael Dolce took 20 years to tell his story. And by then it was too late.
The neighbor who raped him at age 7 never saw a courtroom because the time limit to file a case expired.
“I was absolutely terrorized,” said Dolce, 41, a Royal Palm Beach attorney. “And it took a long time to get to a place in recovery where I could even say the name of the man who did this to me.”
Dolce began telling Florida lawmakers this story six years ago, and it was recounted one final time Monday as the House and Senate unanimously approved a measure to eliminate time limits for filing criminal and civil cases for sex crimes involving children.
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Gov. Charlie Crist said recently he would sign it into law.
“This is one of the major undone pieces in regard to the state addressing the needs of sexual-violence victims,” said Terri Poore, a lobbyist for the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.
The bill won approval this year with help from victims like Dolce and Lauren Book-Lim, the 25-year-old daughter of lobbyist Ron Book.
Book-Lim, who recently completed a 500-mile walk from Miami to Tallahassee to raise awareness of the issue, was molested by her nanny as a child. Along the way, she said, she heard from numerous victims who were never able to confront the perpetrator or obtain justice.
“There is no statute of limitations to a victim’s suffering,” she said.