The case against Bill Cosby took center stage Tuesday at the Capitol in a fight to make rapists pay for their crimes. Two of Cosby's alleged victims passionately testified in an effort to end time limits that allow some accused rapists to remain free with no fear of ever being brought to justice.
"The psychological and emotional damage done to me is immeasurable," said one alleged victim who went by the name “Casey” to protect her identity. Another woman described a violent attack when she was just a teenager. "He suffocated me with a pillow over my face as he was raping me," she told Senate Public Safety Committee members.
The women said Bill Cosby will never have to criminally pay for what he's accused of doing to them, because the attacks happened over a decade ago. Under current California law, if a rape was committed more than 10 years before it's reported the suspect won't have to face charges.
"The courthouse door should no longer be slammed in the case of victims," the plaintiffs’ attorney Gloria Allred said.
Allred represents a group of women who are suing the TV star and comedian for assaults that they say occurred over parts of at least three decades.
Prosecutors agree with Allred. They've been prevented from bringing some rape cases under the current law, even when there is a mountain of evidence against a suspect.
"Because the statute of limitations, we cannot prosecute that case," said San Bernardino prosecutor Mike Ramos.
The State Senate Public Safety Committee listed to testimony today from victims in favor of a bill authored by a Chino Democrat that could lift the time limits on rape prosecutions.
Senator Connie Leyva says Senate Bill 813 will bring justice for victims no matter when they report a rape.
"It is intentional, and it harms these victims - as we heard - for the rest of their lives," Leyva told committee members. "Their lives are altered forever."
A man representing a Sacramento-based taxpayer group opposed the bill saying if it becomes law, cases could clog up courthouses and people could be prosecuted unfairly.
"For example, if a person comes forward and says I was raped 25 years ago, and this is what happened,” said David Warren, of Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety. “Which of you, today, would be able to remember where you were and what you were doing 25 years ago?"
If the support it got in committee is any indication though, the time limits on prosecuting accused rapists could be a thing of the past by the end of summer.
"There is no statute of limitations on the devastating effects I have endured for two decades," Casey said, during a press conference following Tuesday’s public hearing.
The bill passed out of the Public Transportation Committee by a unanimous vote, and it now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
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