Victims have thirty years past age 18 to report sexual abuse

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - This week's arrest of an older man for a sex crime he allegedly committed in 1982 is a reminder that victims of child sexual abuse have more time than they may realize to come forward and report what happened to law enforcement.

Sixty eight year old John E. Weatherall Senior was arrested for allegedly having inappropriate sexual contact with a 16 year old family member around 1982. Investigators say when questioned Weatherall confirmed some of the allegations and he was booked for aggravated incest.

His case is a reminder that victims have thirty years after their 18th birthday to report a sexual crime as District Attorney John DeRosier explains. "We will prosecute if we can produce evidence that it happened. Sometimes that evidence can be one on one testimony. Often times however, a crime that is that old, the perpetrator has perpetrated the offense on more than one individual and we can corroborate that through a second or third victim."

And while some might wonder about the good of dredging up the past, DeRosier says many victims spend a lifetime suffering. He says a successful prosecution can help heal and bring closure. "Victims sometimes get the vindication they've been looking for so many years and closure to something that has been a psychological issue with them for many, many years. It leaves it's mark and that's why it's so critical to at some point, bring it out in the open and begin to get closure from an event that has adversely impacted a victim's life for many, many years."

Derosier says even some defendants are relieved, not wanting to take their crimes to the grave.

The DA's office has not yet evaluated the case against weatherall who has been released from jail on bond. We attempted to contact John E. Weatherall Senior to see if he wanted to comment about being arrested in connection with an alleged crime that happened back in 1982. His wife told us on advice of his attorney, Weatherall is not talking to anyone about the case.

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