Rhode Island lawmakers are considering changing the state’s second-degree sexual assault law after it presented a challenge for prosecutors in the Aaron Thomas case.
Currently, prosecutors have only three years to bring charges in these cases.
However, some lawmakers are debating whether the statute of limitations should be extended to ten years.
Second-degree sexual assault is when someone is accused of sexual contact with a person over the age of 14.
The three-year limit in the current law presented a challenge for prosecutors in the Thomas case.
Thomas, a former North Kingstown High School basketball coach, was charged with one count each of second-degree child molestation and second-degree sexual assault.
He is accused of conducting so-called “naked fat tests” on students while alone with them in his high school office.
Many of these accusations happened years ago, and since most high school students are older than 14, the three-year statute of limitations gives a relatively narrow window to present charges.
Attorney General Peter Naronha has declined to comment specifically on how this impacted the Thomas case but has talked about why the law needs to change.
Another proposed bill would increase the penalty for second-degree sexual assault from a maximum of three years in prison to five.
However, this would not apply in Thomas’s case because he was charged before the law was amended.