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About time

In wake of Cosby scandal, California removes statute of limitations for rape charges

September 29, 2016

On Wednesday, California Gov. Jerry Brown announced the approval of a bill ending the statute of limitations for certain rape and child molestation cases in the state of California. The push to pass the new bill came in the wake of allegations, many of them more than a decade old, of dozens of women who said they were sexually assaulted by comedian and actor Bill Cosby. California had previously had a 10-year limit for women to file rape charges. The bill, set to take effect next year, will not impact Cosby’s impending trial — in which he faces just one criminal case of alleged sexual abuse.

California State Sen. Connie Leyva said that the bill, which was passed by lawmakers without a single dissenting vote, was meant to “[tell] every rape and sexual assault victim in California that they matter and that, regardless of when they are ready to come forward, they will always have an opportunity to seek justice in a court of law.”

Civil rights groups and public defenders who were against the bill have said that a longer statute of limitations could lead to more false convictions due to the disappearance of evidence and the difficulty for victims, witnesses, and defendants alike in accurately recalling memories from more than a decade ago. Advocates in favor of the bill argued that it takes many victims years before they feel able to press charges. In a spring legislative hearing on the bill, several women said they did not come forward earlier because of trauma, shame, and concern that they would not be believed.

According to Senator Leyva, the most important thing was ensuring that victims be able to hold their attackers accountable. “Rapists,” said Leyva, “should never be able to evade legal consequences simply because an arbitrary time limit has expired.”

Read the full story at ABC News.


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