R (Robert) Kelly has recently been charged, in Chicago, with having sexually abused four females from 1998 to 2010. Three of the women were underage at the time this abuse is alleged to have occurred.

In the Law and Order episode "Nocturne", it is mentioned "Child abuse can be prosecuted up to five years after the child's 18th birthday."

Of course, that only applied to NYC. But in the state where these children claimed they were abused (Illinois) - which is back in 1998, TWENTY-ONE YEARS ago, is the claim even holdable in court?

Note that in the episode they couldn't prosecute the molester on 151 counts (the amount of videos they found was 151), only two because two videos were the most recent.

Why are these charges being brought? Aren't they barred by the statute of limitations?

  • @user6726 Why can R. Kelly be prosecuted if the Statute of Limitations doesn't hold for the location of his arrest? Feb 23, 2019 at 20:09
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    I should point out that you are stipulating facts that would have to be proven in court: you haven't proven your claim about the statute of limitations, and the court disagrees with your assessment.
    – user6726
    Feb 23, 2019 at 20:32
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    @user6726 it seems that it shouldn't be too hard to explain all of that in an answer useful to those who are not legal professionals while acknowledging that much of their knowledge about the law might come from a tv show, and without downvoting the question (which I understand you did not do). Also, the question seems not so much to make a claim about the statute of limitations as to be asking about the application of the statute of limitations in this case.
    – phoog
    Feb 23, 2019 at 22:35
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    I have edited the question to make it clearer without changing it in any significant way. Feb 23, 2019 at 23:06

2 Answers 2


In 2017 Illinois changed its law so that criminal charges for child abuse have no statute of limitations, and can be prosecuted as long as the accused is alive. This applies to all such crimes that occur after the new law was passed, and to all prior crimes on which the previous statute of limitations had not yet expired. See this news story on the change

Previously, Illinois law allowed for prosecution for up to 20 years after the victim turned 18. Since the women Kelly is accused of having abused were 16 or younger in 1998 or later, the older statute of limitations would not have expired until at least 2020.

More than 35 states now have no statute of limitations for child abuse.

By the way, for civil actions, as opposed to criminal charges, the Illinois law now says:

an action for damages for personal injury based on childhood sexual abuse must be commenced within 10 years of the date [a person turns 18] or within 5 years of the date the person abused discovers or through the use of reasonable diligence should discover both (i) that the act of childhood sexual abuse occurred and (ii) that the injury was caused by the childhood sexual abuse. The fact that the person abused discovers or through the use of reasonable diligence should discover that the act of childhood sexual abuse occurred is not, by itself, sufficient to start the discovery period under this subsection (b). Knowledge of the abuse does not constitute discovery of the injury or the causal relationship between any later-discovered injury and the abuse." (ILCS § 5/13-202.2(b))

Thus, a civil suit by one of the alleged victims might or might not be barred by time, depending on details of the date of the abuse and the victim's age.

In short, do not take a drama as a source of legal advice. Look it up or ask a reliable source.

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    In response to your last question: What do you think I am doing here? Feb 24, 2019 at 11:00
  • @Jossie Calderon fair enough. Was that the information you wanted? Feb 24, 2019 at 11:17

In NSW, Australia there is no limit on bringing charges for indictable offences, the limit on summary offences is 6 months and the limit on offences from legislation other than the Crimes Act is specified in that legislation, for example, the limit on a Work Health and Safety offence is 2 years.

Indictable offences are serious crimes for which the defendant has a right to trial by jury and include child sexual assault, summary offences are dealt with by a magistrate alone.

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    I think we know that neither the TV show nor the alleged real events took place or would be prosecuted in Australia.
    – user6726
    Feb 23, 2019 at 22:00
  • @user6726 I think we know the OP is not asking about the TV show given this is Law SE not Movies & TV SE
    – Dale M
    Feb 24, 2019 at 19:46
  • @user6726 this SE has a well established rule of allowing answers from multiple jurisdiction to allow questions to have a maximum amount of usefulness.
    – Neil Meyer
    Nov 13, 2021 at 18:38

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