Fact check: Brett Kavanaugh and the statute of limitations in Maryland

On Thursday, a Washington Post article claimed that the statute of limitations had long since passed for the crimes that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was accusing Brett Kavanaugh of having committed in Montgomery County, Maryland. This confused and concerned a number of observers, because so many legal experts had already stated that there was no statute of limitations. Readers asked Palmer Report to get to the bottom of it, and we did.

Here’s the disconcerting WaPo quote from September 28th which set off all the alarms: “Even if an accuser went to the local department, the statute of limitations appears to have long since passed for pursuing the allegations described in Thursday’s dramatic Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.” Strangely, this was buried in the seventh paragraph of the article, as if it were undisputed common knowledge. We went digging to try to figure out the discrepancy. It turns out we didn’t have to go any further than the WaPo itself.

Back on September 19th, the Washington Post ran an article written by Thiru Vignarajah, the former Deputy Attorney General of Maryland. You can’t be much more of an expert on Maryland state law than this guy is. Here’s part of what he wrote:

Attempting a sexual assault with the aid of another person counts as attempted first-degree rape, just as restricting a victim’s breathing to stop her from shouting for help could fairly qualify as first-degree assault. Both are felonies with no statute of limitations in Maryland. Likewise, under Maryland law, using force to move a victim a short distance, even from one room to another, can amount to kidnapping, a crime that similarly has no limitations period. There are examples across the country where convictions for kidnapping have been upheld in cases where rapists took the victim just to a separate room to commit the crime.

So this comes down to a matter of interpretation as to which specific laws apply to what Brett Kavanaugh allegedly did to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. We think it’s safe to go with the guy who’s an expert on Maryland law. If Kavanaugh were hypothetically arrested and put on trial in Maryland, his lawyers could try to convince a judge to throw out the case. Maybe it would work and maybe it wouldn’t. But that’s several steps ahead of where we are right now. The bottom line is that the door is wide open for Ford to press charges, and for prosecutors to charge him for crimes that have no statute of limitations.

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