ANALYST: Bill Cosby, Joseph Dendy and those who protected them shouldn't get too comfortable

By Channel 2 Legal Analyst Esther Panitch

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ATLANTA -- A local political leader.

America's dad.

Married grandfathers in the twilight of their lives. Now high-profile defendants in criminal cases.

Joseph Denby, a former Cobb County Republican Party chairman, and iconic comedian Bill Cosby are just two examples of alleged serial abusers now facing the possibility of ending their lives in prison.

Expect to see many more like them as changes in the law have empowered victims who have traditionally stayed quiet for fear of losing their future to the shame and additional victimization that exposing abusers has brought in the past.

Although most of the allegations have been brought after the various statute of limitations have passed, new recognition of reasons why victims are wary to come forward, both in Pennsylvania and Georgia, have allowed for revival of those previously untried claims as laws have been changed.

In Georgia, criminal statute of limitations changed from seven years to no limit for the most egregious crimes. The Hidden Predator Act, enacted in 2015, has also changed Georgia’s civil statute of limitations.

I anticipate you'll see more of these cases emerge, and not just in civil actions.

Federal prosecutions are likely to rise against people who, for example, have crossed state lines to have sex with underage children prior to 2012, when Georgia statute of limitations don't permit charges to be brought.

Additionally, those who protected alleged pedophiles should also be very worried as their knowledge, or willful refusal to acknowledge, will no longer pass muster of enlightened juries.

I have seen firsthand the long-lasting damage that occurs when the powerful prey on the vulnerable.

Of course, those in power should likewise not be targeted more or less than any other person because of their high profiles, and, despite the sheer volume of accusers, due process demands the accused have their day in court.

But their days are coming soon.