California’s Justice For Victims Act: No More Statute Of Limitations On Rape And Child Sex Abuse [Video]

In the wake of numerous sexual assault charges that have been levied against aging comedian Bill Cosby, California has passed a bill called the “Justice for Victims Act.” The new legislation, which was signed into law on Wednesday by Governor Jerry Brown, removes the criminal statute of limitations on an array of sexual assault-related crimes in the state. Prior to the new Justice for Victims Act, California law would only allow perpetrators of such crimes to be criminally prosecuted for 10 years after the alleged assault took place.

As BuzzFeed reports, the new California law will apply to rape, sodomy, lewd or lascivious acts, continuous sexual abuse of a child, oral copulation, and sexual penetration.

The move by the State of California was reportedly fully supported by six California women who claim to have been victims of sexual assault at the hands of Bill Cosby. Those women have been unable to pursue criminal charges against Cosby due to California’s statute of limitations for sex crimes. According to California Senator Connie Leyva, the Justice for Victims Act is a victory for victims of sexual assault, as well as all women, men, and children who may become victims in the future. Not to mention the family members of victims, who so often have to watch their loved ones go without justice in sexual assault cases.

“Rapists should never be able to evade legal consequences simply because an arbitrary time limit has expired. There must never be an expiration date on justice!”

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California has recently taken center stage in the nation’s heated debate over sexual assault and victim’s rights. In addition to the situation with Bill Cosby, which has close ties with California, the state is also home to Stanford University and Brock Turner. Turner was convicted of sexual assault earlier this year, and despite jurors finding that he had sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, the judge in the case sentenced the college student to a mere six months in jail.

He served just three.

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The public outcry regarding what many saw as an outrageously light sentence has been overwhelming and resulted in forcible changes to the career of the judge who presided over the case, Judge Aaron Persky. The Brock Turner case also resulted in changes to California law prior to the Justice for Victims Act.

At the end of August, California legislators voted to close a very significant loophole in state law, a loophole that didn’t require judges in the State of California to impose mandatory minimum prison sentences in cases where the victim was unconscious, drunk, and/or otherwise incapable of resisting the “sexual advances” of their assailants. California lawmakers voted unanimously to change the law in the wake of the Brock Turner case.

The Justice for Victims Act garnered unanimous support from California lawmakers on both sides of the aisle prior to being signed into law by Governor Brown on Wednesday. The new law also reportedly got high-level support from the California Police Chief’s Association and drafting assistance was reportedly provided, in part, by the California Women’s Law Center.

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During the drafting of California’s Justice for Victims Act, a half-dozen of Bill Cosby’s alleged sexual assault victims testified before the California legislature in an attempt to get the legislation passed.

According to at least one of the women who claims she was drugged, raped, and threatened by Bill Cosby, California prosecutors refused to touch her case because the statute of limitations for the crimes she claims were committed against her had passed.

Unfortunately for the women who testified about their alleged abuse at the hands of Bill Cosby, California’s Justice for Victims Act won’t go into effect until 2017, too late to help them. However, the new California bill could provide justice for sexual assault victims who report their abuse after the Justice for Victims Act goes into effect.

“We’re trying to turn our trauma into triumph for future rape survivors.”

The subject of prosecuting those accused of sexual assault is a contentious one, with many people believing that current laws are adequate and still others who believe that life-long sex offender registry is too harsh. Especially for young perpetrators of sexual assault, such as Brock Turner, who ultimately end up being listed on the registry for decades.

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California’s new Justice for Victims Act takes into account those concerned about erroneous prosecution of alleged sex offenders. While the new law eliminates the statute of limitations on an array of sexual assault-related crimes in the state, it does not lower the standard of proof/evidence required to convict an alleged sex offender.

According to experts that have looked into California’s new Justice for Victims Act, the state has plenty to do when it comes to ensuring that rape kits are processed in a precise and timely manner as well as protecting victims from being stereotyped by judges, juries, prosecutors, and law enforcement.

[Featured Image by Sergei Bachlakov/Shutterstock]