Bill Cosby Accusers Testify at State Senate Committee Hearing on Statute of Limitations Bill

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Lili Bernard, who claims Bill Cosby drugged and raped her in the 1990s, speaks at a rally in Hollywood in November 2015 in favor of ending California’s statute of limitations for sex crime prosecutions. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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After wrenching testimony that included accounts from three alleged victims of comedian Bill Cosby, a Senate committee on Tuesday gave its first approval to a bill that would allow sex crimes to be prosecuted no matter how long ago they occurred.

The bill, SB 813, from state Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), eliminates the current 10-year statute of limitations on rape cases. Leyva argued in the hearing that giving sexual assault victims more time to report incidents would hold more rapists accountable and provide closure to painful situations.

“A victim should always have the hope that they will be able to have justice,” Leyva said.

The accusations against Cosby provided a direct example of what the bill seeks to change. In recent years, more than 50 women have accused Cosby of sexually abusing them in incidents that, in some cases, were alleged to have occurred decades ago. District attorneys across the country have cited statutes of limitations as a reason they can’t pursue charges against Cosby, though he does face prosecution in Pennsylvania over an alleged incident in 2004. Cosby has denied all wrongdoing.

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