About 14 years ago I was using my ex's family computer and I came across a series of emails between my sister in law (middle school age) and her female middle school teacher in which they discussed their inappropriate relationship including sex.. The teacher mentioned she wanted to end the relationship. It was during that time the girl was visibly disturbed emotionally and psychologically. Everyone wondered why. I was shocked and told a few people but forgot about it. I was young and didn't think of telling police. It turns out the teacher is still teaching and nothing has happened to her. Is it too late for her to be charged with rape? Also the girl probably won't want to admit or press charges due to embarrassment. Took place in Florida.
The statute of limitations 775.15(13) extends the period, tolling from the victims 18th birthday per (a), or, without limitation under (c)
If the offense is a violation of s. 794.011 and the victim was under 16 years of age at the time the offense was committed, a prosecution of the offense may be commenced at any time. This paragraph applies to any such offense except an offense the prosecution of which would have been barred by subsection (2) on or before July 1, 2010.
Subsection 2 states the general limitations, which are severity-related:
(a) A prosecution for a felony of the first degree must be commenced within 4 years after it is committed.
(b) A prosecution for any other felony must be commenced within 3 years after it is committed.
(c) A prosecution for a misdemeanor of the first degree must be commenced within 2 years after it is committed.
(d) A prosecution for a misdemeanor of the second degree or a noncriminal violation must be commenced within 1 year after it is committed.
A death-penalty or life-imprisonment offense has no time limit, and some forms of sexual battery do carry those penalties, but not the situation described. There is also a provision (16(a)) for prosecution
at any time after the date on which the identity of the accused is established, or should have been established by the exercise of due diligence, through the analysis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) evidence, if a sufficient portion of the evidence collected at the time of the original investigation and tested for DNA is preserved and available for testing by the accused
which we may assume is not applicable in the instant case.
We may assume from the description that the violation took place before 2003, and the longest limit (for a first degree felony) is 4 years i.e. 2006. However, subsection (b) states a different complicating factor:
If the offense is a first degree felony violation of s. 794.011 and the victim was under 18 years of age at the time the offense was committed, a prosecution of the offense may be commenced at any time. This paragraph applies to any such offense except an offense the prosecution of which would have been barred by subsection (2) on or before October 1, 2003.
In other words, if it is a first degree felony, then it can be prosecuted anytime (given the presumption that the violation was not before about 1999, which seems to be what you're describing).
The age of the parties at the time matters, so I assume the minor was under 16 but above 12, and the adult was over 24. Florida Code 794.011 subsumes all forms of sexual battery, and different sections assign punishments (including death) and degree of felony. Subsection (5) defines the possibly-applicable second-degree felony sexual battery charges, which either involve a victim 18 and over, or a perpetrator under 18, which we assume is not the case here. Under (5)(a):
(a) A person 18 years of age or older who commits sexual battery upon a person 12 years of age or older but younger than 18 years of age, without that person’s consent, and in the process does not use physical force and violence likely to cause serious personal injury commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, s. 775.084, or s. 794.0115.
It should be mentioned that a minor is legally deemed incapable of giving consent, thus the "without consent" part is true.
There is a further wrinkle in the law:
(8) Without regard to the willingness or consent of the victim, which is not a defense to prosecution under this subsection, a person who is in a position of familial or custodial authority to a person less than 18 years of age and who:
(b) Engages in any act with that person while the person is 12 years of age or older but younger than 18 years of age which constitutes sexual battery under paragraph (1)(h) commits a felony of the first degree, punishable by a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
If a teacher is "in a position of custodial authority", then that also applies (and constitutes a life felony).
This all said, the opinion of the internet seems to be that the limit is 4 years. Either I'm missing something else, or the specifics of the case matter: first degree violation, took place around 2001 which put it within the SOL on October 1, 2003.