California’s state assembly is close to accomplishing something New York lawmakers could not do — change the way sexual assault is prosecuted.
Inspired by Bill Cosby, of all people, elected leaders in the Golden State passed a bill last week to end the time limit for prosecuting rape and felony sex crimes.
Under the California’s current law, rape and felony sex crimes must be tried within 10 years, unless DNA evidence comes to light after that time period.
And sex crimes against children younger than 18 must be prosecuted before the victim turns 40. Cosby stands accused of assaulting more than 35 women in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, but in several of their cases, the statute of limitations has expired.
“There are some crimes that are so heinous that there should never be a statute of limitations,” Assemblyman Travis Allen told the Los Angeles Times.
Assemblyman Mike Gipson agreed, calling the bill “long overdue” and saying it would “ensure that criminals be placed in jail” no matter when charges are brought against them.
The legislation now moves to the state senate, and if the governor signs the bill, crimes including rape and continuous sexual child abuse would no longer have a statute of limitations and could be prosecuted at any time.
Though the legislation is not yet a done deal, it is lightyears ahead of anything New York has done on the issue.
In Albany, Democratic lawmakers were pushing for different versions of the Child Victims Act that would either extend the time that child sex abuse victims can bring legal cases, or eliminate the time limit altogether.
But Senate Republicans blocked the measures from coming to a vote before the 2016 legislative session ended in June.
The missed opportunity angered child sex abuse victims who have been unable to get justice because of laws shielding predators from prosecution.
The victims have been trying to pressure state lawmakers to reform New York’s statute of limitations which bars sex abuse victims from pursuing criminal charges or civil litigation after their 23rd birthday.
The bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Queens) would have increased the time a sexual abuse case could be brought by five years, opened a six-month window to revive old cases, and treated public and private entities the same when it comes to sex abuse.
The bill moved through committee, but never came to the floor for a vote.
Unlike the Senate, the Assembly in the past has passed legislation dealing with the issue, though the last time was in 2008.