Committee amends statute of limitations bill
By Jackelyn Severin
A measure eliminating the statute of limitations in criminal rape cases has been amended in a legislative committee. Originally, Senate Bill 68 eliminated the statute of limitations altogether. Now the bill only removes the statute of limitations in cases of forcible rape or cases involving victims less than thirteen years of age.
Patty Brooks is with the Compass Center in Sioux Falls which helps victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. Brooks says rape is one of the most underreported crimes due to the stigma and fear surrounding it. She says it can be years before a victim is ready to seek justice and the state shouldn’t put a time limit on the healing process.
"The offender takes a part of that person away permanently. A part of who she was died that very day and that will never come back. So to heal from something that horrific in your life we have to be able to give those people a time and voice to come forward," says Brooks.
Opponents of the legislation say victims’ memories fade and removing the statute of limitations could lead to wrongful convictions.
The Senate Judiciary unanimously passed the amended version of Senate Bill 68. It now moves to the Senate floor.
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