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Debate: Bill seeks to extend statute of limitations for rape in California

California State Capitol Building in Sacramento.
California State Capitol Building in Sacramento.
Jeff's Canon/Flickr Creative Commons

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Five of the women have accused comedian Bill Cosby of sexual assault, but at least some of the alleged crimes are too old for prosecution.

A state bill, SB 813, authored by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino) would abolish all legal deadlines for rape, sodomy, lewd, or lascivious acts, continuous sexual abuse of a child, oral copulation and sexual penetration.

The bill was heard Tuesday by the Senate Public Safety Committee.

Read full story here.

During the conversation, our guests and callers weighed in with the pros and cons of extending the statute of limitations for sex crimes. Here are some highlights:

Co-chair of the legislative committee at the California Public Defenders Association, Margo George, is against extending the statute of limitations for sex crimes. As someone who has personal experience with sexual assault, she argued that the culture of silence around sexual abuse needs to change.

Margo George: I’m 66 years old. When I was 18. A friend of mine coerced me. At the time, I did not realize that I’d been raped. And it took me many years to come to grips that that was what actually what happened. But that’s because of the stigma, the confusion and, not in my case, but in other people’s cases, the power differential. But I think that’s the important part, for women and men to step up and say “this is what happened. It was not okay. We’re gonna change the culture.”

Charles in Menlo Park called in to give his case for lengthening the statute of limitations. He said that, as a rape survivor, he can attest to how difficult it is to talk about what happened, especially for men.

Charles: I, myself, was raped over 10 years ago. I had just turned 18 at the time and if this was law now, I would absolutely come forward about it and seek prosecution. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with it and to get myself to a place where, emotionally I can even talk about it. To be honest, there’s very few people I know that I’ve been able to tell. Before this point in my life, there’s no way I would have been able to go to the police about it and file a report and deal with all that. I think this law is absolutely important. Without it, it just emboldens sexual predators.

Jason in the Miracle Mile district said he was falsely accused of rape and is thankful the LAPD’s investigation found that he was innocent. As a person who works in the entertainment industry, he said the statute of limitations should not be lengthened because it would increase the number of false accusations.

Jason: After gaining some relative success in my industry. These women will come out of the woodwork at you when they realize that you’ve gained some financial success. So I feel for Bill Cosby. I think he’s been framed . . . If we didn’t have the statute of limitations, [these women] come at you like crazy.


Joelle Casteix, Western regional director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and the author of the book "The Well-Armored Child: A Parent's Guide to Preventing Sexual Abuse." [She lives in Newport Beach, CA]

Margo George, co-chair of the legislative committee at the California Public Defenders Association