California may be the latest state to abolish the time limit on reporting cases of sexual assault. Currently, the state limits prosecution of felony rape cases to 10 years after the incident, but a new bill, SB 813, seeks to allow rape survivors to seek justice at any time.
SB 813 passed California’s legislature with bipartisan support. Now, Governor Jerry Brown must decide whether to sign or veto it by the end of the month. More than 30 states and the District of Columbia have statutes of limitations of various lengths in cases of sexual assault. Meanwhile, sixteen states have already removed such statutes.
California state senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino), the bill’s author, told the Washington Post, “People are starting to realize rape is a serious crime. It does not happen by accident. It’s a conscious decision by a rapist. The victim should always have the opportunity to come forward.”
The debate over California’s statute of limitations became a high-profile one after several of Bill Cosby’s accusers said he drugged and raped them there. Cosby is protected from criminal action by the state’s 10-year limit on prosecution.
However, Leyva has stated that Cosby himself is beside the point. “For me, Bill Cosby has absolutely nothing to do with why I’m doing this,” she told Broadly. “I am interested in the average, everyday woman who isn’t getting media attention. For me it has nothing to do with him.”