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Oregon Senate Approves More Time To File Rape Charges

Salem Capitol Oregon

Dave Blanchard

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The Oregon Senate has approved a bill doubling the amount of time rape victims would have to press charges.

The measure passed Thursday would set the statute of limitations at 12 years, up from six. It will apply to future crimes, and those that have taken place within the past six years.

“I think it was appropriate for us to give additional time for victims to be able to come forward,” said Eugene Democrat Sen. Floyd Prozanski, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said the justice system should recognize that trauma may prevent victims from reporting rape right away.

Victims’ advocates had pressed the legislature to extend the statute of limitations even further or do away with it entirely, noting that half the states place no time limit on when a victim can file rape charges.

Oregon does make an exception for rape cases based on DNA identification, which can be filed at any time.

Meanwhile, defense attorneys opposed the change. They said key evidence that can clear a person, including text messages and photographs, will not last 12 years.

Sen. Prozanski said he would convene a work group to study whether the statute of limitations should be expanded even further.

The bill passed 28-0. It now heads to the governor.

The AP contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Amelia Templeton is a multimedia reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting, covering Portland city hall, justice and local news. She was previously a reporter for EarthFix, an award-winning public media project covering the environment in the Northwest.