As of Friday, January 26, 2018
OLYMPIA A bill passed in the State House of Representatives last year offers some hope for people who were sexually assaulted years ago and want to see the one who harmed them prosecuted.
But that hope faces some difficult challenges in the Senate.
House Bill 1155 would eliminate the statute of limitations for the most serious rape and sexual assault offenses.
The Law and Justice committee in the Senate is the next step for the bill. Committee chair Senator Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, who has discretion on legislation the committee will hear, said that he would not hear this bill.
“Human beings deserve to go on with their lives,” he said. “We have statutes of limitation in every area of the law with the exception of murder. I think that special status is appropriate in cases of murder.”
Still, “The pain and hurt of these crimes don’t go away,” Representative Dan Griffey R-Shelton, the bill’s prime sponsor, said. “They are life-long sentences.”
But, Pedersen said, there are many other crimes that can ruin a life including drunk driving and arson. The statute of limitations, he said, is a necessary element of the law.
“I don’t know how you can say somebody shouldn’t have to worry for the rest of their lives if they committed one of those crimes,” Griffey said.
Meeting with sexual assault survivors groups, the Washington Prosecutors Association, Senator Ann Rivers, R-Lewisville and Representative Tina Orwall, D-Kent, Griffey said he is trying to come to a compromise.
Pedersen said he was open to negotiation but stands with his position on keeping some sort of statute of limitations.
“I’m certainly open to looking at lengthening the statute although I think we have a pretty long time after someone reaches the age of majority where the crime can be prosecuted.”
Meanwhile, Griffey said that Pedersen has turned down his requests for a one-on-one discussion.