California Weighs Changing Rape Statute after Cosby Claims
April 13, 2016
The California Legislature is advancing a bill driven in part by prosecutors' difficulty in pursuing sexual assault charges against Bill Cosby.
"When only two in 100 rapists are actually convicted and go to jail, maybe we’re doing something wrong," the bill's author Connie Leyva, D-Chino, said. "No one is ever raped by accident. It is intentional and it harms these victims."
Previous versions failed years ago in the Senate Public Safety Committee. But the new bill by Leyva passed the committee 4-0 on Tuesday after testimony by witnesses including lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents 30 of Cosby's accusers.
Several of his accusers told senators they are unable to bring charges now because they didn't come forward years ago.
Casey accused Cosby of sexually assaulting her but can't sue because the statute of limitations for her assault is up.
"I can attest to the fact that once the act that is committed against one’s physical body is over -- there is just beginning a body of pain," she told the senate committee. "The psychological and emotional damage done to me was immeasurable."
Lili Bernard said she was a guest star on the Cosby Show when she was raped.
"He endeared himself to me. [Cosby] lifted me up," Bernard said at the committee hearing. "And when he gained my total trust, he trafficked me across state borders enslaved me by surreptitiously slipping drugs into my blood and then he raped me."
Janice Baker-Kinney said she was a bartender at Harrah's in Reno when she went to a party and was sexually assaulted by Cosby.
"All of us knew there was nothing we could do, but we knew there was something we had to do for future victims," Kinney said.
Cosby has consistently denied sexual abuse allegations made by dozens of women around the country. Some of the claims date to the 1960s.
Opponents of the bill said it is emotionally reactive and based upon headlines.
"We want to make sure that the innocent are not put in our prisons and victimized merely for the sake of 25 years later someone coming forward for whatever motivation they might have," spokesperson for Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety Matt Gray said.
Several other states are considering similar bills.