California is the latest state to amend its statute of limitations on filing rape charges, as lawmakers were moved by the stories of dozens of women who say entertainer Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them more than a decade ago, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Cosby has long denied the charges. Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that lifted the statute of limitations, allowing rape victims to seek charges at any time. The legislature unanimously passed the bill after it heard from the alleged victims of Cosby. Last year, Nevada extended its statute of limitations for the crime from four years to 20 years after a Cosby accuser testified. In June, Colorado doubled the time limit from 10 years to 20.
The measures mark a shift in attitudes towards rape in response to the dozens of women that came forward against Cosby years later. The laws recognize that most victims don’t immediately report they were sexually assaulted. Opponents, including public defenders and civil libertarians, worry that the California law could increase the number of wrongful convictions, as evidence disappears, and memories fade. While supporters and opponents want justice to be served, the question is how to make it fair to the defendant and the victim. The California law, which becomes effective Jan. 1, 2017, will end the state’s 10-year limit for a victim to file rape and related charges.