Violence Against Women

California Terminates Statute of Limitations in Wake of Cosby Allegations

Last week California Gov. Jerry Brown approved the Justice for Victims Act, which will eliminate the state’s statute of limitations for prosecuting rape and other felony sex crimes.

California State Senator Connie Leyva, who played a central role in passing the bill, applauded Governor Brown’s signing, saying, “it shows victims and survivors that California stands behind them, that we see rape as a serious crime, that victims can come forward and that justice now has no time limit.”

The previous law placed a ten year time limit for victims of sexual assault to file charges, unless DNA evidence merged after that time. Victims of child sexual abuse were required to report the crime before he or she turned 40 years old.

Starting next year, victims of rape and child sexual abuse will no longer have a time limit for pressing criminal charges, though the law only applies to crimes that are committed after the legislation takes effect January 1.

The law was inspired by the more than 50 women who have come forward with accusations of rape by Bill Cosby, alleging they were assaulted by the comedian in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. Unfortunately, the law will not apply retroactively in compliance with the Constitution’s ex post facto clause.

Though these women will never have their day in court, their attorney, Gloria Allred, who now represents over thirty of Cosby’s alleged victims, commended her clients for sharing  their stories to change the law, as many testified before the California legislature in support of the Justice for Victims Act.

In a statement released Wednesday, she said “The passage of this new law means that the courthouse doors will no longer be slammed shut in the face of rape victims. It puts sexual predators on notice that the passage of time may no longer protect them from serious criminal consequences for their acts of sexual violence.”

17 other states have already taken the initiative to eliminate this obstructive time constraint for prosecuting sexual predators. It is estimated that only three percent of rapists ever serve jail time for their crimes.

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