There Should Be No Statute of Limitations On Rape

I’m not going to bother trying to figure out whether Bill Cosby raped 15+ women. That’s for a court of law to determine, but then again, maybe it isn’t.

Let me explain.

What I should have typed is: ‘That should be for a court of law to determine’.

As I watched various news sources reporting on the allegations of rape made against Bill Cosby, one thing became frighteningly, terrifyingly real – he might never face criminal charges because apparently, parts of America have a crazy, stupid, mind-blowing statute of limitations on rape cases. In Canada (where I live) there is no statute of limitations on anything, except ‘lesser (summary) crimes and misdemeanors’.

Look, if you owe a few bucks or are caught jaywalking or something, I can see there being a statute of limitations.

If you drug and rape someone, you shouldn’t get off free as a bird. There is a clear difference between jaywalking and raping someone.

I’m not saying Bill Cosby is guilty, but he should definitely face prosecution (if those women wish to press charges) for something as heinous as possibly raping someone. If he’s innocent, then he’ll be exonerated, but a ridiculous statute of limitations on something as serious as rape is un-freaking-believable.

Especially when you consider that rape is one of the least reported crimes:

“We all know that rape and sexual assault are the most underreported crimes in the world, and it’s very hard to say that the problem is declining,” Christopher Krebs, a sexual violence researcher at nonprofit research institute RTI International, told Slate this week. “The NCVS data could be missing a lot.”

Come on…

Get rid of those statutes of limitations and prosecute sexual assault when you can. Not only are these statutes of limitation silly, but they’re extremely dangerous because they could allow rapists to get off the hook and continue sexually assaulting people in the future.




  1. I don’t know if it gets reported much over there, but the UK police have been conducting Operation Yewtree after the death of Jimmy Saville, who (allegedly, I guess, since it never went to court – death should be the only statute of limitations that counts) abused many people from his position of trust as a children’s TV presenter and charity fundraiser.

    A seemingly large proportion of my childhood TV personalities have been accused, and in many cases convicted of rape and abuse, of incidents which happened 30-40 years ago, and only now, with all the publicity, have they come forward knowing that they may be believed now.

    So yes, someone needs to start lobbying hard to get that changed.

  2. I was just going to say what Caroline has said – in the UK it seems like all my childhood DJs and personalities have a law suit against them. But rightly so; a lot of woman have been too afraid to speak out for so long. It’s a hard thing to do, digging up the past like that. It seems to me that Bill Crosby will have this hanging over him and if he is innocent he won’t have a chance to clear his name.

  3. I agree with you. I think the problem that most prosecutors face is that after a certain amount of years there’s simply no way for them to actually prove the case, because maybe the witnesses and/or police detectives who worked the case have died, moved away, or retired. There also may not be any DNA or any DNA that existed at one time may no longer be a good sample — and jurors tend to really want to rely on DNA. At that point it becomes a he said/she said type thing.

  4. I think diverseharmony (DV) has made a good point. There should be no statute of limitations on any serious (major) crime, including rape. But like anything else in the real world, there’s going to be a cost/benefits analysis conducted and a determination made as to whether or not a case is worth pursuing to prosecution. The period of time that has elapsed between when the rape allegedly occurred and the present day, along with what might very will be a total lack of forensic evidence and no witnesses to the crime, turn it into a “he said/she said” situation, as DV noted. It’s not right, but with all of the cases prosecutes have on their docket, and the difficulty of achieving a guilty verdict, they may just opt to not pursue such old cases.

    But to your more important point, there shouldn’t be a statute of limitations. Because if DNA evidence can be uncovered or witnesses come forward to build a strong case, it should be prosecuted no matter how long ago the crime occurred.

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