In case you missed it, here's some good news out of this year's short legislative session in Salem: On Wednesday, state lawmakers voted to get rid of the statute of limitations for first degree sex crimes like rape, striking out the 12-year time limit for victims to file charges against their attackers. Here's OPB:
Democratic Rep. Jennifer Williamson said for survivors of sexual assault, the pain of the crime doesn’t go away in just a few years.
“The fear doesn’t disappear. The violence doesn’t subside,” Williamson said. “And yet the path for rape survivors and survivors of sexual assault to bring their attackers to justice does run out in this state.”
But the legislature decided to remove the time limit if new evidence is discovered. The measure passed the House 56-2 and now heads to the governor’s desk.
A separate measure approved Wednesday would require the Oregon State Police to clear out its backlog of untested sexual assault evidence kits. A legislative analysis shows the agency has more than 5,000 untested kits. The bill would appropriate $1.5 million to help the State Police speed up its testing.
The measure passed without opposition in either chamber and awaits action by Governor Kate Brown.
As to why ending the statute of limitations for rape cases makes sense, here's Jill Filipovic at the NY Times, discussing the Bill Cosby sexual assault case, in which the alleged victim finally pressed charges following a decade-old assault:
Most sexual assault survivors don’t report the crime right away, especially if the perpetrator is someone they know — which applies in about four-fifths of cases. Data from the Department of Justice indicates that rape and sexual assault are the least reported violent crimes, with only around a third of victims reporting. Even when survivors do go to the police, law enforcement routinely fails to fully investigate their claims. Nationwide, as many as 500,000 rape kits still await testing.
This is not uncommon, and the statute of limitations prevents victims from seeking justice when they finally do come forward.