California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill eliminating the existing
statute of limitations on
rape cases. The bill, which is believed to be influenced by the over 50 allegations
of sexual assault made by different women against comedian Bill Cosby,
states that acts of rape, sodomy, lewd or lascivious acts, sexual abuse
of a child, sexual penetration, and oral copulation committed after January 1st, 2017 may be prosecuted at any time. Previously, felony sex offenses in
California could only be prosecuted within 10 years of the date of the
alleged offense unless new DNA evidence emerged, with offenses against
minors being subject to prosecution up until the victim’s 40th birthday.
Initially proposed by Democrat Senator Connie Leyva of Chino, the measure
is meant to encourage sexual assault victims to come forward regardless
of when their assault occurred. “It shows victims and survivors
that California stands behind them,” Senator Leyva said, “that
we see rape as a serious crime, that victims can come forward and that
justice now has no time limit.”
The bill has seen its fair share of opposition from both civil rights groups
and public defenders, stating that the bill could potentially lead to
an increase in false convictions due to the fading memories of victims
and witnesses. Likewise, many have stated that the bill will disproportionally
affect poor and minority defendants with little or no representation.
“The statute of limitations is there for a reason,” said Natasha
Minsker, director of the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy and Policy.
“When a case is prosecuted literally decades after the event, it
becomes much more difficult to prove that you are wrongfully accused."
For more information on this important story, head over to
the original article published by NPR.
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