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Archive for Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New law abolishes statute of limitations on rape

April 2, 2013

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The five-year statute of limitations for prosecuting rape cases will be abolished under a bill signed into law Monday by Gov. Sam Brownback.

The law takes effect July 1, and also removes the statute of limitations for prosecution of aggravated criminal sodomy. Currently, Kansas is among 10 states that required rape cases to be prosecuted within five years.

The new law also allows for prosecution of a sexually violent crime within 10 years if the victim is at least 18 years old. For younger victims, prosecution would begin within one year of the date the suspect is identified through DNA testing, or within 10 years of the victim’s 18th birthday, whichever is later.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who backed the legislation this session, said technological advances in forensic science had increased law enforcement’s ability to prosecute cases with DNA material and that removing the statute of limitations would allow those cases to go forward “whenever sufficient evidence is available without an artificial time limit.”

Rape victims said the change in the law helps them with their healing after the crime.

Mel Townsend, a 24-year-old Topeka woman who attended the signing ceremony, said the new law means her case won’t lapse. She was an 18-year-old sophomore at Kansas University when she was raped. She said law enforcement hasn’t been able to find the suspect yet.

The Associated Press normally doesn’t identify victims of sexual assault but is identifying Townsend because she has been active in testifying in support of the change in the rape law and attended Monday’s bill signing.

“It’s such a relief,” Townsend said. “It will give you a little hope that justice is on the same page now.”

A recent cold case rape charge was also dropped last year because of the current statute of limitations.

Former Topeka woman Cindy Hillebrand, who also advocated for the new law, was raped in 1985 in Topeka. A Topeka man, Joe Jones, was wrongfully convicted in that case, but later exonerated. In 2012, DNA evidence identified a Kansas inmate, Joel Russell, as a suspect in the case. Russell, who is currently in a Kansas prison, was served an arrest warrant, but charges were dropped because the statute of limitations had expired. Hillebrand, who spoke to legislators at a hearing on the bill last month, said she was glad to hear her case might help other rape victims.

Brownback also signed a proclamation making April Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

In 2011, social service providers helped 4,047 sexual assault victims. During the same year, law enforcement arrested 259 people for 1,103 reported assaults, according to the nonprofit Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.

Comments

katykc 9 months ago

As a victim who did not report, I can tell you this bill is empowering to victims. When you know your assailant, it is difficult to find the courage to call the police. I never found that courage to overpowermy shame and self blame. By the time I realized I couldn't just brush away the pain & anger, it was too late. I know exactly who it was and now I can go to the police armed with the knowledge that they can help me. I never thought it possible but recently one of his ex friends came to me and apologized for the incident saying what he did to you was wrong. I guess that means other people know and now I have some evidences other than my story.

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Larry Sturm 1 year ago

Even if they are raped they cannot have an abortion.

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Greg Cooper 1 year ago

Unbelievable. Just, simply, unreallystupidlywomanhatinglybelievable.

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Centerville 1 year ago

So abortion in the case of pregnancy in the course of a rape is now illegal in Kansas?

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Lynn731 1 year ago

That is great for rape victims, and law enforcement. Good work !!

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bearded_gnome 1 year ago

So the same Legislators that make it possible to prosecute the rapist no matter when, also refused to help the VICTIM if by chance she got pregnant by the rape. We will put the guy away (maybe), but you have to raise the child because you certainly can't get an abortion. After all "a woman's body has a way to shut that whole thing down", right ???

---because the logic is: it is barbaric to kill the most innocent for the crime of another, killing the baby for th crime of the rapist is wrong. now, if you talked about say death penalty for habitual rapists, we could talk about a possible new law that would make sense but you liberals are all about giving rights to the rapists.

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Clark Coan 1 year ago

Memories are a funny thing and over time eyewitness and victim memories may become hazy to say the least. Unless there is clear DNA evidence, generally no one should be convicted on eyewitness or victim accounts.

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somebodynew 1 year ago

So the same Legislators that make it possible to prosecute the rapist no matter when, also refused to help the VICTIM if by chance she got pregnant by the rape. We will put the guy away (maybe), but you have to raise the child because you certainly can't get an abortion. After all "a woman's body has a way to shut that whole thing down", right ???

With this Legislative session this is not a surprise.

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ebyrdstarr 1 year ago

Except that this statute is largely redundant. There was already no statute of limitations for any rape case from roughly 1997 on that involved DNA. So most old cases that couldn't be solved until a DNA match was found were already covered by an extended statute of limitations.

All this statute really accomplishes is letting all other rape allegations, where there is no DNA or no need to identify an assailant because the victim knows him, fester or not even be raised until 10 years later or more. Defending against a charge like that becomes more difficult as more time goes by.

There are good reasons to have statutes of limitations. Since the DNA exception was already law, this law wasn't necessary.

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rbwaa 1 year ago

finally, something worthwhile comes from kansas legislators

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kusp8 1 year ago

...and they said Republicans and Democrats couldn't work together.

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