PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek signed a bill on Thursday increasing the statute of limitations for several misdemeanors and felonies, including sexual assault.
SB 3632 increases the time first-degree sex crimes can be prosecuted from 12 years to 20 years, or if the victim was a minor when the crime occurred, or before the victim turns 30-years-old.
Additionally, prosecution for felonies including strangulation, rape, and promoting or compelling prostitution can be prosecuted within six years after the crime, or if the victims was under 18-years-old at the time of the crime, before the victim is 30 years old, or within 12 years after the crime was reported to law enforcement.
The bill adds that felonies including extortion, robbery, and identity theft can be prosecuted within six years after the crime if the victim is at least 65 years old.
However, the bill states that cases involving murder, attempted murder, and aggravated murder can be prosecuted at any time.
In a press release announcing the bill signing, Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend) described how the bill will impact survivors of sexual assault.
“Sexual assault victims have endured so much suffering. Yet, House Bill 3632 is a glimmer of hope for survivors who deserve every opportunity to seek justice,” Knopp said. “Getting this bill over the finish line has taken many years and the tireless work of countless people. I am incredibly pleased to finally see it pay off today.”
In a Senate Republican press release announcing the bill signing, Tiffany Edens — who survived an attack from Richard Gilmore, also known as the Jogger Rapist — says more work needs to be done to fix Oregon’s sex offender risk level assessment.
“It was an honor to have witnessed this bill become law today, however I am also reminded of what still needs to be done for victims of sexual assault,” Edens said. “The Legislature must still make necessary fixes to Oregon’s sex offender risk level assessment process while providing enough funding to clear the backlog of unclassified sex offenders that currently exists.”
In a written testimony supporting SB 3632, the Oregon District Attorney’s Association described how the bill can empower survivors.
“Unfortunately, our prosecutors handle sexual assault cases every day, including those with victims who were abused as young children. This experience informs our opinion that often times it takes a great deal of time for a victim to come forward,” ODAA said.
The organization added, “in many cases, that additional time before disclosure or engagement with law enforcement is due to a variety of barriers including a fear that no one will believe them, shame, embarrassment, threats from the offender, the perpetrator still lives in the home, a fear of damaging their family, they think this only happens to them, they test the waters of disclosure and don’t get a welcome response, or they are afraid to go through the process of an intimidating criminal justice system. All of that to say that when a victim is ready to disclose, we should be ready to seek justice on their behalf.”
A Senate rules committee measure summary points out that other states, including Washington and New York, have increased their statute of limitations laws for sex crimes to 20 years – noting California removed their statute of limitations for similar crimes.
The summary points out ORS 131.125 (10) says there’s no time limit for prosecutions with DNA evidence for charges including first-degree rape, sodomy, and unlawful sexual penetration.