Colorado

Mar 6, 2014 11:04 PM by Maddie Garrett

Police, Victim Advocates Applaud New Law Eliminating Time Limits on Sex Assault Cases

Sexual assault victims could soon have more rights when it comes to putting their accused assailants behind bars. The changes are stemming from a new state law being proposed, Senate Bill 059.

The bill would eliminate the statute of limitations for other crimes committed during a sex assault, such as kidnapping, burglary or trespassing.

Lt. Howard Black with the Colorado Springs Police Investigations Division said he applauds this new law, because sexual assault cases can be some of the hardest to handle, for victims and police.

"They're some of the most horrific crimes that we deal with as a society," said Lt. Black.

TESSA, a Colorado Springs advocacy group for victims of domestic and sexual violence, is also glad to see the law move forward, saying it should help survivors of these traumatizing crimes.

"When someone has been through this, they are a survivor," said TESSA Deputy Director Becky Gundrum.

Gundrum explained that sometimes surviving is all a victim of sexual assault can do.

"Sexual assault is one of the most dis-empowering crimes that can happen to someone, you've basically lost control of your own body and it can take a really long time to report that," said Gundrum.

In some cases it can take years for someone to report a sexual assault, as it is one of the most difficult crimes to come forward about. Often times victims will wait until they feel safe to report the crime.

"We might have cases that are 10, 15, maybe even 20 years back," said Lt. Black.

Currently, there is no statute of limitations on sexual assault crimes that have DNA evidence. But there is a time limit on pressing charges for other crimes committed during that assault, making it hard for someone to potentially get full justice.

"It adds insult to injury," Gundrum added.

This new law would change that.

"If something else traumatic happened to them during that event, then they can also be further empowered by being able to press charges against those things as well," said Gundrum.

It would allow sex assault victims and prosecutors to use the full power of the law when trying to get a conviction, and justice.

"It's a positive step, it's another tool in our tool bag if you would," said Lt. Black.

Gundrum said this could really help victims come forward, and also help them heal psychologically.

"One of the most effective ways to help sexual assault victims heal is to give them their power back and this just gives them their power back," she said.

The bill does not apply to sex assault cases that do not have DNA evidence.

Senate Bill 059 recently passed in the Colorado House with bipartisan support and now goes back to the Senate for final approval.

 

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