In the wake of the charges and civil suits brought against Bill Cosby for “allegedly” drugging and sexually assaulting over 60 women and children, the extensions in the statutes of limitations in only 18 states is far too little too late. Victims who were assaulted prior to the extensions are not eligible to seek justice … ever. Beyond that there are still restrictions on how long a victim has to come forward - even if there is DNA evidence supporting his or her claim. Even with the changes, the statutes of limitations on sexual assault range from 3-30 years. In the case of a victim who was sexually assaulted under the age of 18, the clock does not begin until their 18th birthday (in some states). The only crimes that have no time restrictions for prosecution are murder and (in a few states) felonies such as embezzlement.
With over 60 women’s lives forever altered, the fact that only one is able to seek justice is outrageous. The message sent to the other 60 plus victims is “what happened to you doesn’t matter, you don’t matter anymore than you did when you were drugged and helpless to fight off your attacker.” 13 women were eligible to testify against Cosby at the trial in Pennsylvania, however only 1 of the victims was allowed to testify to establish the pattern of behaviour that dated back to 1965. The judge cited the time limitations due to the statute and laws governing disparaging the character of the defendant.
In case you are out of the loop, the case against Cosby ended in a mistrial on June 18th, 2017. It’s remarkable that the 12 jurors - 7 men and 5 women - could not come together given the evidence that was presented against Cosby. One has to ask how influenced they were by his Jello puddin’ Daddy Huxtable persona given the fact that beyond the testimony of 2 victims, there was a taped conversation between the mother of Andrea Constant (the victim he was being prosecuted for sexually assaulting) and Cosby. Cosby talks about paying for Andrea’s education as a payoff for her silence; add to that the statements Cosby made in a sworn deposition in which he is on record admitting to drugging and sexually assaulting women while they were completely physically incapacitated. He goes on to say that women didn’t say no and he took that as permission to proceed. Cosby also admitted to obtaining quaaludes by lying to his doctor about back pain while having the intention to use them on women that he wanted to have sex with. The jury even had the judge reread those particular excerpts while they were deadlocked after over 50 hours of deliberation. Cosby was on trial for three counts of aggravated indecent assault adding up to a second degree felony from 2004 against Ms. Constand. Each charge comes with a maximum sentence of 10 years which a judge can order be served concurrently. The prosecutor in the case will be re-filing in the hopes of obtaining justice for Ms. Constand.
Why does rape have a time limit for justice while non-violent felonies do not ?The reasons given for the existence of statutes of limitations is as follows:
They are difficult to prosecute due to faded memories of the victims, witnesses being unavailable and/or missing or unusable physical evidence.
The most disturbing reason given for the statue of limitations protects the sexual offender while showing no concern for the victims. PEACE OF MIND. Peace of mind for the accused. The statue of limitations is designed to give the accused closure so that they do not have to live out their life under the threat of prosecution. How absurd is that?!
As a rape survivor I can assure you that our memories do not fade - at least not of the actual act; that would be a gift. The only thing associated with being raped that may fade is what time it was or what day it was or what we had for dinner. The act is in our body, soul and psyche forever. Where that has become a part of the reasons for a statute of limitation is beyond me, particularly when you have 60 victims telling the same story and one person - the rapist - saying it didn’t happen. At what point do we begin to support the victims? I cannot begin to imagine the pain and frustration Cosby’s victims are experiencing. No doubt they believed that with the sheer number of women coming forward the justice system would support them and take a dangerous sexual predator off of the streets. I can tell you that being sexually assaulted altered my WHOLE life, I will never be the same little girl I was before the assault. The fact that the system cares more about the peace of mind of the rapist is … I have no words. If you have been fortunate to have never been a victim of a sexual assault you may be asking what took them so long to come forward. It’s a common question. I was well into my 20s before I ever spoke about being raped at the age of 12; even then it was to very few people. I was 50 before I came out to the world and shared that I had been sexually assaulted. It took me that long to finally let go of the shame that was never mine to bear. That’s a pretty common experience for victims of sexual assault. We are made to believe it was our fault and that we are dirty and damaged human beings. The system’s protection of sexual offenders further supports that by providing protections to the perpetrators first and us second … if ever.
Statistically we know that sexual predators rarely have one victim AND they become more violent/brazen over time. There are studies showing that being a sexual predator is like being addicted to drugs, they need that feeling of power and control. And like a junky will often do anything to get their “fix.” With all of the amazing advances in science, DNA and other tests are solving cold cases in record numbers. So beyond memories that don’t actually fade we have DNA. As the movement EndTheBackLog.com works to get rape kits tested to find and prosecute rapists there is no doubt that there will be matches related to victims where the statute of limitations has run out. In Cleveland alone they tested 4,373 kits resulting in 1,898 matches in the DNA database. Over 515 defendants have been indicted as a result. In Detroit there have been 2,616 matches in the DNA database resulting in the discovery of 770 potential serial rapists who committed crimes in 40 states. Think about the number of years a serial rapist can go undetected. Think about Cosby. He has been accused by over 60 women of either rape, drug facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery, child sexual abuse and or sexual misconduct spanning from 1965 to 2008 across 10 U.S. states and one Canadian province. If DNA evidence existed from his crimes it would not matter. The statute of limitations protects rapists and robs victims from ever having closure, justice … peace of mind. It also leaves the door wide open for future victims.
Once a serial rapist, always a serial rapist. If you think for one moment that Cosby will not attempt to assault another woman think again. He has demonstrated that he does not think there is anything wrong with his behaviour. When questioned about why he paid the women off or offered to do so he stated that it was simply because he didn’t want his wife of over 50 years to find out about his “affairs.” Beyond that he has the seemingly undying devotion of his wife Camiile in his (their) denial corner. After the trial, she released a statement through their PR firm and her husband’s Twitter in it she called the Prosecutor "heinously and exploitively ambitious" and then went on to criticize the judge, the accuser's lawyers and the media. ”How do I describe the judge? Overtly arrogant, collaborating with the district attorney.” Over 60 women with the same story, a deposition with his admissions and that’s all Camille had to say…