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Bill Cosby leads California to do something about its rape laws

(Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)

California is doing away with the statute of limitations on rape and sexual assault cases, with a bill that was prompted in part by the accusations against a certain former sitcom star. Yes, while the legislation signed by Governor Jerry Brown yesterday is obviously important on its own merits, it is also notable because it was “inspired” by the allegations against Bill Cosby, as the Los Angeles Times reported back in August. Previously, prosecution had to begin within 10 years of the crime, or, if the victim was underage, prior to their 40th birthday. Though the new law does not allow already expired cases to be opened up once again, it does, according to the Associated Press, apply to open cases as well as new ones brought forward.

Gloria Allred, who represents many of Cosby’s alleged victims, issued the following statement to The Hollywood Reporter in response to this news: “The passage of this new law means that the courthouse doors will no longer be slammed shut in the face of rape victims. 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.” Cosby accusers, like actress Lili Bernard, testified in favor of the bill back in April. “War criminals, no matter how many decades have passed, cannot evade prosecution,” she said, per the Times. “I am asking you to do the same thing for us, rape survivors, who survived the war upon our body.”

Cosby could be on trial come next June for allegedly raping Andrea Constand in 2004. That case is Pennsylvania based.

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