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Originally published Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 10:31 PM

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Extension of child-rape statute of limitations proposed

A bill in the state Senate would extend the statute of limitations in child-rape cases.

The Spokesman-Review

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OLYMPIA — Washington may extend the statute of limitations on cases of child rape, making it possible to convict some predators after their victims grow up.

But victims of sexual abuse and their families told a Senate panel that doesn’t go far enough.

There should be no statute of limitations on child-sexual assault, they said.

A woman who told the Senate Law and Justice Committee she was sexually abused beginning around age 12 said many young victims need time to process what’s happened to them. They may not be able to do that until they are adults.

Current state law says a case of first- or second-degree rape involving a victim 14 or older can be prosecuted for 10 years, but only if it is reported within a year after it occurs; if the victim is younger than 14, the crime can be prosecuted until the victim reaches 28, if it is reported in that first year.

Rape cases involving victims younger than 14 who report the assault within three years can be prosecuted for seven years, or until the victim turns 21, if that’s longer.

Senate Bill 5100 would allow rape cases involving victims younger than 18 to be prosecuted until the victim turns 30, remove the one-year reporting requirement and expand the statute of limitations for other sex crimes involving minors like child molestation and indecent liberties.

A Sammamish woman said her daughter was abused by a relative at a young age, and later by an assistant teacher. She developed a series of health problems and underwent therapy at 15 that revealed the abuse. Police investigated but refused to prosecute because the statute of limitations had passed. She never recovered from her health problems and died three days after the case was closed.

“Child rape is soul murder, and there should be no statute of limitations,” she said.

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