Lawmakers were moved to action by sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby.
California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Sept. 28 that eliminates the statute of limitations in rape and child molestation cases, according to the Associated Press.
The new law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, and will “allow the prosecution of rape, sodomy, lewd or lascivious acts, continuous sexual abuse of a child, oral copulation, and sexual penetration, that are committed under certain circumstances, as specified, to be commenced at any time.”
This means, from January 2017, the 10-year time limit during which prosecutors must file rape and child molestation charges has been eliminated.
The LA Times reports the bill was inspired by sexual assault accusations against Bill Cosby. Dozens of women have come forward and accused the comedian of sexual assaults from the 1960s through the 1990s, though he continues to deny their claims.
Unfortunately, the bill isn’t retroactive, so it won’t help women who made allegations against Cosby more than 10 years ago. He is, however, due to go on trial in June 2017 for sexually assaulting a woman in Philadelphia in 2004. “The Cosby Show” star has repeatedly said his relationships with the women who came forward were consensual.
California lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents many of Cosby’s alleged rape victims, testified before state lawmakers to fight for the Justice for Victims bill. “The passage of this new law means that the courthouse doors will no longer be slammed shut in the face of rape victims,” Allred said in a statement. “It puts sexual predators on notice that the passage of time may no longer protect them from serious criminal consequences for their acts of sexual violence.”
California is the 17th state to pass such legislation.