Legislation heading to the governor would change the statute of limitations for rape and sexual assault. The statute of limitations would remain 10 years, but instead of starting from the time the crime is reported, the period would begin when the rape kit, the set of items used to collect sexual assault evidence, is tested.
Deanne Benos, spokeswoman for the group Test 400K, says there’s a nationwide problem with those kits not being tested before the 10-year period runs out. “It is abhorrent that our nation’s law enforcement leaders have looked the other way while a backlog of at least, and we think it’s more, 400,000 rape kits have been allowed to accrue and languish, or even get misplaced,” Benos said.
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That was the case for Rosa Pickett of Robbins. She was raped in 1977, and when her attacker found her again a decade later, she went to the police, only to learn they couldn’t help.
“They told me ‘Well, we’re going to arrest him now. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to release him, because the statute of limitations had run out on you,’” Pickett said.
The bill passed in the Senate with only one “no” vote. It had passed unanimously in the House.