News 12 at 6 o'clock, March 12, 2009
AUGUSTA, Ga.---Child molestation is a topic no one likes to talk about. The problem is it is happening more and more often. In most cases parents never find out. Even more alarming is that in Georgia, unlike South Carolina, you only have a matter of years to come forward.
One man's cry for justice has lawmakers taking action.
Scott Hudson is a local investigative reporter who often pounds the pavement with his daughter/sidekick, 4-year-old Emerson.
When they're not chasing down news, the duo cleans up Augusta streets with their First Saturday crew.
"We don't go pick up trash on Saturdays," said Scott. "We go for a 'wick-wock' and just happen to pick up a bunch of trash."
It's fair to say that Scott has many titles. He's most proud of being called a father.
"Most of us spend our entire childhood until we get to the teen years thinking that the world," said Scott as he chose he words carefully. "We see it through rosy glasses."
That's exactly why Scott's latest investigation hit home. This is where the story takes a violent twist. Emerson is at an increasing risk of being sexually assaulted.
"The last person that a child wants to look down on them is mommy and daddy," said Scott. "So they are generally the last to find out."
News 12: How does that make you feel?
"It makes me damn mad," said Scott.
In Georgia, the statute of limitations is seven years. If a child is sexually assaulted, but it is not reported until years later, charges cannot be filed.
"I can tell you this," said Scott. "If I ever found out that someone laid there hands on my child Smith & Wesson is going to be my partner. I would much rather have the law there and let law enforcement handle it."
These are numbers the state capitol can no longer ignore. 1 in 3 children will be sexually assaulted before the age of 16.
"When we leave here on April 3rd," said Rep. Ben Harbin. "The children of Georgia will be a lot safer."
Scott contacted Rep. Harbin. Harbin then put pen to paper drafting a bill that would remove that 7 year time limit.
"I was actually bothered that we had in law that if you can get away with this for a certain amount of years you get to go free," said Rep. Harbin. "It's not a lottery system. If you commit this kind of crime you should go to jail."
It's already a law in South Carolina. Back in 2007, child predator Ed Meloan went before the court decades after he first committed his crimes.
"You are truly as one of the young men said a monster," said Judge Jack Early.
In addition to countless victims, deputies found 9,000 photos and up to 175 pornographic movies locked away on Meloan's home computer. That had all been recently organized by the victim's ages.
"Hopefully, that will make some of these people think twice," said Scott. "Because rather than sitting waiting for that 7 year date to click they can be 70 years old when they get caught. [They can be] 70 years old sitting in a prison cell."
Meloan's case was enough to compel at least one concerned father to act.
"It compelled all of us," said Harbin. "This is something that we didn't know was a problem and when he brought it to our attention we were all willing to stand-up and fight for it because we have that much respect for Scott."
He is just one man using his voice to make a difference.
"Scott's not going to take his Smith & Wesson to anybody," said Scott with a smile. "But we as citizens are not going to tolerate it. We consider this a violent crime. When we do find you, you're going to jail."
Currently, the clock starts ticking at age 16. After 7 years it is as if no crime was committed. But House Bill 163 is making it's way through the legislature. We will no the results within the coming days.