Will the abolition of the statute of limitations bring justice in Cosby case?

Christine Weeks, Contributing Writer

Accusations of previously beloved American comedian Bill Cosby drugging and molesting various women have been repeatedly brought to the media’s attention since 2014. While Cosby’s case mainly concerns his affair with a woman named Andrea Constand, nearly 60 other women have also come forward with accusations against Cosby dating back to the 1960s. Cosby has claimed each instance was either fabricated or consensual, particularly in the case with Constand.

The first round of the case between Constand and Cosby took place in May 2016 and included many other female witnesses to testify these claims of rape against Cosby. During this first round, there was no cross-examination between Constand and Cosby. The case is scheduled to be re-addressed in June 2017.

With this case comes the issue of time. The statute of limitations places a cap on time during which the prosecution may file criminal charges. This time period varies from state to state in the United States. After the Justice for Victims Act was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the statute of limitations in California has been abolished for instances of rape, molestation, and other forms of sexual abuse.

The statute of limitations issue in the United States stirs up much debate. While California has lifted the statute of limitations on felony sexual offenses, other states have expanded it to 20 or so years, and still others keep their current standings. Whatever the case, the moral implications are up for debate.

Some believe the statute of limitations should not exist; if a crime, such as rape or molestation, happened long ago, a victim should still be able to report it and pursue legal actions. Others argue that lifting the statute of limitations would cause complete chaos, believing that the number of false reports would escalate.

I believe it is best that the statute be lifted. The question of why time would have any impact on the status of rape and molestation as punishable felonies puzzles me. While yes, it may cause initial confusion and prompt false accusations, it is still an essential right of the American people to report these heinous crimes. It is simply a matter of time before we see the effect of the lifted statute of limitations in California with regards to the Cosby case.

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