DNA, Old Rape Cases: Time For Law To Catch Up To Science?


Fletcher Worrell, 59, has been linked to sex attacks in New York State in the 1970s but cannot be prosecuted for them because the five-year statute of limitations for rape has long since run out. Michael F. Rubin, Worrell’s attorney, disputed the idea that DNA testing had made the statute of limitations outdated, says the New York Times. The statute “ensures timely prosecution when memories are still fresh, and the advent of DNA technology hasn’t changed that,” Rubin said.

New York City officials argue that DNA, offering the possibility of a scientifically precise identification of the criminal many years after the crime, has changed the legal calculus. “DNA doesn’t have any of the human frailties,” said John Feinblatt, the justice coordinator for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “It’s time for law to catch up to science.” In New York, bills offered by State Senator Dean G. Skelos, a Republican, to abolish the statute of limitations for rape have been repeatedly adopted by the Senate over the last decade, but have not passed the Assembly. A bill the Bloomberg administration offered last spring to eliminate the statute is awaiting action in the legislative session beginning in January. “Many criminals got away with it because they simply disappeared,” said Assemblyman Mark Weprin, who sponsored the city’s bill.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/02/nyregion/02rape.html?8hpib

Comments are closed.