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California Assembly votes to remove time limits on rape cases in wake of Cosby accusations

Artist and actor Lili Bernard speaks about allegedly being raped by Bill Cosby as she protests at Cosby's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Artist and actor Lili Bernard speaks about allegedly being raped by Bill Cosby as she protests at Cosby's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The California Assembly on Thursday passed a bill to end the time limit for prosecuting rape and other felony sex crimes, paving the way for the legislation to reach the governor before the session ends.

The Assembly approved the bill 70-0. SB 813 now goes to the state Senate, which passed an earlier version of the legislation 33-0 in June.

If the governor signs the bill, crimes including rape and continuous sexual child abuse would no longer have a statute of limitations and could be prosecuted at any time.

"There are some crimes that are so heinous that there should never be a statute of limitations,” Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) said.

Under existing law, such crimes generally must be prosecuted within 10 years unless DNA evidence emerges later. Sex crimes against minors generally must be prosecuted before the victim’s 40th birthday.

Assemblyman Mike Gipson (D-Carson) called the bill "long overdue” and one that would “ensure that criminals be placed in jail."

State Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) introduced the bill in the wake of news that dozens of women have alleged comedian Bill Cosby raped them. Many of their cases cannot be prosecuted because the statutes of limitations have expired. 

Cosby has said his relationships with his accusers were consensual.

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