Colo. lawmaker: End time limits on rape charges

Posted at 9:03 PM, Sep 16, 2015

A Colorado lawmaker wants to end the 10-year statute of limitations on rape charges, after hearing from women who accused Bill Cosby of raping and drugging them.

Beth Ferrier and Heidi Thomas will no longer stay silent.

"I think the big thing here is we are starting the conversation," said Ferrier.  "We were young, we were beautiful. We were naive and he took that from us."

The Colorado women are two of more than 50 women who have come forward, accusing Bill Cosby of drugging and raping them.

"I didn't even think about pressing charges," said Thomas, who claims she was assaulted in 1984. "Because this is Bill Cosby. You're going to lose."

Cosby has denied the charges, but the allegations have placed a harsh spotlight on varying statutes of limitations in cases of sexual assault.

"Right now, you're out of luck after 10 years here," said Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora, speaking about Colorado's current time limits. 

Fields says that cap sends the wrong message about how our system treats victims of sexual assault.

"Kidnapping, forgery, murder; there's no statute of limitations on those kinds of crimes," said Fields. "This is about believing in women and protecting women."

Child sex abuse cases have no statute of limitations in Colorado, and Fields says it should be the same for adults, or at the very least, Colorado should lengthen the time frame.

She met with attorney and sex assault victims Tuesday to begin the process of drafting legislation to get rid of the time limit, similar to other states such as New Jersey.

Attorneys have expressed concern about the ability of the person accused to defend himself or herself as time passes, but Fields says the bill would still give District Attorneys discretion about when to take a case to court.

Ferrier said eliminating the statutes of limitations would make them feel like there was a purpose in coming forward, even though the new law would not retroactively apply to their case. 

"This has never been about retaliating against Mr. Cosby," she said. "This is now to help my daughter and other daughters and other sons."

Fields said she is planning to sponsor the legislation next year.