Bill Cosby Was The Final Straw For Colorado’s Statute Of Limitations
In the last few years since Bill Cosby has been in the news because of the rape allegations against him, the topic of statute of limitations for sexual assault has received some much needed attention. Because the majority of the sexual assaults in the allegations against Cosby happened so long ago, only one reported incident was within the statute of limitations and has been able to move forward. As sad as it is to hear that many women will not be able to hold Cosby accountable for his actions, it's a step in the right direction that some states have been pushing to extend statute of limitations on sexual assault so that this type of situation will hopefully not be as common in the future. Colorado is one such state that has revised its statute of limitations after Cosby's case, but their efforts need to go further.
One of Cosby's alleged victims, Beth Ferrier, led the charge to eliminate Colorado's statute of limitations on sexual assault. When she began her campaign, the state's law was set at 10 years. Ferrier, along with several other victims, shared her story on the senate floor in the hopes of creating an easier path for victims to report their assaults. Colorado Representative Rhonda Fields drafted the legislation, which aimed to eliminate the statute completely. Unfortunately, the bill failed, but two state senators, Republican John Cooke and Democrat Mike Johnson, joined forces to revise the bill and extend the statute to 20 years.
On June 10, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed the revised bill to law, and it took effect on July 1. It was a victory for sexual assault victims, but it still isn't good enough.
Colorado has a lenient statute of limitations on rape relative to the complete lack of statute of limitations for other crimes. Cooke, who is a former Colorado sheriff, told BuzzFeed that the state has no statute of limitations for homicide, kidnapping, or even forgery. This is inexcusable. The idea that someone who commits forgery can be charged at any point in his or her life yet a rapist needs to be reported within 20 years is an embarrassment. Upholding any statute of limitations on rape is an affront to victims of sexual assault and should be seriously reconsidered.
Sexual assault victims should have the option to report their attacker at any point in their life. When Andrea Constand filed a report against Cosby for sexual assault a year after the incident in 2004, she luckily was within the statute of limitations for her case to be considered. At the time, District Attorney Kevin Steele did not find enough evidence to be able to bring the case to trial. Since then, transcripts of Cosby's 2005 deposition for Constand's report have led to new evidence, which Steele is using to bring charges against him now.
Seeing how many women have come forward with their stories about Cosby's behavior, knowing they could not press charges because of statute of limitation laws was heartbreaking, and hopefully now that legislators are working to increase the time that women can come forward in reporting sexual assaults, more victims can hold their rapist accountable for their actions. Colorado took a step in the right direction, but it's time for it and other states to eliminate their statute of limitations altogether.