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Local survivor working to end statute of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes

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Posted at 7:13 PM, Dec 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-17 22:38:46-05

A child sexual abuse survivor is speaking out after the Santa Margarita man responsible was sentenced to 100 years in prison earlier this week.

In October, 61-year-old, Michael Anthony Brians was found guilty of eight felonies related to the sexual abuse of three children between 1992 and 2016.

During the trial, two additional victims were allowed to testify about how Brians abused them as children. That abuse reportedly began in 1988 but due to the statute of limitations, these earlier acts were not able to be charged as separate crimes in this case.

KSBY spoke exclusively with one of the survivors who counted toward the charges but is working to stand up for the other survivors and fight for a change to the current law.

In her victim impact statement read in court on Monday, Brittany spoke directly to her abuser, saying, “I want to change laws regarding the statute of limitations because of you. I want to make the world better because of you. Because you are a cancer and I want to find the cure.”

“I am one of the survivors of the trial against Michael Brians. It was about a two and a half year process between from when he was arrested and sentencing,” she told KSBY.

“Thank you. Thank you for giving me the strength that no one should ever have to know," Brittany read in court. "Thank you for pushing me to a point I never knew I needed to be but I do now because I want to do what it takes to move forward in making more victims' voices known."

There were five victims in the case but two of the victims were not able to get justice because the deadline passed for pressing criminal charges.

“Meaning, I was still young enough to have charges brought against him for the crimes committed against me but they were too old to have their voices heard,” Brittany said. “I feel that they're putting a timeline on people's emotions.”

Now, Brittany is advocating for change by trying to get rid of the statute of limitations on crimes against children or sexual assault.

“We are scared. We feel that we will be shamed. We feel like our voices don't matter. It makes it harder for us to come forward. It takes us longer to work through our issues and come forward because most of the time we are forced to work through them in the dark,” Brittany read.

The statute of limitations is complex and the law changes often.

Currently, if someone was sexually assaulted after January 1, 1996, they have until they’re 40 years old to press charges.

Brittany is reaching out to a number of leaders about this law, including San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow. He’s also advocating that the legislature eliminate the statute of limitations for all felony sex crimes.

It’s already been dropped in seven other states across the country.

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“I believe this change will help embolden survivors to come forward and report their victimization at a time when they're able to do so and we can hold the offenders accountable,” Dow said in an interview with KSBY. “We're still only going to be able to go forward with cases that have sufficient evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Dow says he’s had a conversation with Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham urging him to consider carrying and sponsoring the bill.

“I think it's an injustice to people who don't get to see their abuser face time or be punished. It's taking their voice away,” Brittany said.

“I want to dig out and burn down every monster like you that makes other people feel that they are not worthy and that they don't matter because they do matter. They matter. They matter to me,” she read in court.

According to national statistics, a person is sexually assaulted every minute and eight seconds in the United States. Every nine minutes, it’s a child.