It forced California to change a major state law
Although allegations stem back to the 1960s, over the past two years, dozens of women have come forward saying they were sexually assaulted by comedian-actor Bill Cosby. Now, the number of victims stands at 60, but due to statute of limitations laws in most states, only one woman has been able to press charges. Today, the state of California took strong measures to insure that assailants aren’t by such laws in the future by enacting the Justice for Victims Act.
The new bill signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, abolishes the state’s ten-year statute of limitations for cases of child molestation, rape, and other felony sex crimes. The new law takes effect in 2017, and will gives future victims unlimited time to charge their assailants. “Rape survivors face many barriers to reporting this crime, but an arbitrary legal time limit is no longer a barrier in California,” said Caroline Heldman, an Occidental College professor who co-chaired a campaign for such a law. “This law will only affect a small number of survivors who have solid evidence that a crime occurred many years after the fact, but for these survivors, this law is life-changing.”
Far too often victims of sexual abuse are afraid or reluctant to report their assaults at the time of attack or are too young to take legal action. This new law gives much needed recourse to people who previously would have been unable to pursue justice. Although the bill is not retroactive so it provides no course of action for Cosby’s accusers, the brave women who stood up against the powerful celebrity should be proud that their collective action has helped to empower future victims.