Wendy Davis Proposes Eliminating Statute of Limitations for Rape

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State Senator Wendy Davis has long been a champion for victims of sexual assault, and this week she continued her dedication to protecting victims by unveiling a powerful new policy proposal–eliminating the statute of limitations for rape.

The current statute of limitations for rape in Texas is 10 years, though there is no statute of limitations for cases of sexual assault against a child or for cases where DNA tests do not reveal a match in the criminal system. This often leads to rapists not being prosecuted, because the statute of limitations has passed. In Texas, and many other states, the problem is exacerbated by the huge backlog of rape kits in the system that have sat untested for many years (another issue Wendy Davis has been a leader on)–by the time they are tested, it's likely the statute of limitations to prosecute the crime has passed.

In a press conference in Dallas, Davis stressed the importance of her new proposal, referencing Lavinia Masters, a rape victim who has campaigned with Wendy Davis in the past. Said Davis, “Eliminating the statute of limitations for rape will help to right that wrong by making sure that survivors like Lavinia will never again will have to forgo justice just because someone stood back and let the clock run out on their case.”

Wendy Davis explained why getting rid of the statute of limitations on sexual assault is crucial for achieving justice for victims of sexual assault in Texas:

    “As Governor, I will continue to fight for sexual-assault survivors by working to eliminate the criminal statute of limitations on sexual assault in the state of Texas. I will classify sexual assault at the same level as other heinous crimes such as murder, manslaughter and human trafficking, which have no statute of limitations.

    While the bills I authored are helping to address the backlog of rape kits, the fact that we would throw survivors' trauma and courage on a shelf for months or years without a second thought is offensive to them and to everything we say we stand for. But then to turn around and make survivors pay the price for our failure and neglect by denying them justice is almost criminal in itself. Eliminating the statute of limitations for rape will help to ensure these criminals are brought to justice no matter how long ago they committed their crime.”

Wendy Davis' record on sexual assault stands in sharp contrast to her opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott. In her first ad, Davis told the story of a sexual assault case that came before the Texas Supreme Court while Greg Abbott was on it. Abbott sided against the victim and with the company that had hired the rapist, a salesman, without doing a routine background check. Had the company done the background check, they would have found that the salesman was a convicted sexual predator on probation.

Law enforcement and elected officials alike have voiced support for Wendy Davis' latest proposal to protect victims of sexual assault. Said Dallas County Constable Beth Villarreal, who appeared with Davis at her press conference:

    “The criminal statute of limitations in cases of sexual assault all too often serves as a barrier to justice. It effectively places an expiration date on justice for survivors, and puts citizens at risk. Senator Wendy Davis' proposal equips law enforcement officers with the tools we need to prosecute criminals for heinous crimes like rape. Her proposal to end the criminal statute of limitations for rape would send a clear signal to sexual predators: we will find you, and when we do, we will hold you accountable.”

State Senator Jose Rodriguez, a former prosecutor himself, praised Davis for making it easier to prosecute rapists:

    “Rapists have gone unpunished for their crime because DNA evidence of their attack went untested for years,” The statute of limitations has kept us from prosecuting known rapists for their despicable act. That's a grave injustice. I fully support Senator Davis' proposal to eliminate the statute of limitation in cases of rape. Survivors deserve to see their attackers prosecuted.”

Once again, Wendy Davis has made it clear that protecting victims of sexual assault is one of her top priorities–and that as governor, she'll continue to stand up for what's right.

About Author

Katie Singh

Katie grew up in Austin and has been involved in Texas politics since 2004. She has been a part of several campaigns, from state house races to working at President Obama's campaign headquarters in 2012. She loves public policy, public health, and tacos. Katie tweets from @kasingh19.

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