Dear Governor Brown,
We urge you to sign Senator Connie Leyva’s Justice for Victims Act (SB813) that the state legislature just unanimously approved. SB813 abolishes the arbitrary 10-year time limit on prosecuting rape in California. This bill does not lower the standard of proof for prosecution, but it does allow rape survivors with reliable evidence to get justice, regardless of when they come forward.
Seventeen states have already abolished their time limit, and as the most progressive state in the nation, we need to get on the right side of history. Currently, California has no time limit on prosecuting murder or the embezzlement of public money. Surely rape should be treated as seriously as embezzlement!
We need SB813 because we live in a society that blames and stigmatizes rape survivors. This causes many victims to wait years before reporting their rape, which partially explains why only 2% of rapists ever see a day in jail. Once a survivor gets the courage to report, he or she should have every opportunity to get justice, like Norma.
When Norma was 13-years-old, she was raped by a 21-year-old man who drove to a remote field in the Central Valley. Norma fought back and screamed “no,” but he did not listen. When Norma mother’s found out she was pregnant, she blamed Norma for the rape and forced her to keep the baby. Norma learned to love her son, but the trauma stayed with her.
Norma has proof she was statutorily raped in the form of DNA. When Norma was 14, her mother went to family court to get child support from the rapist. Two DNA tests confirmed the paternity, but the judge did not step in and protect Norma from the rapist or her mother.
In the wake of a suicide attempt in her late thirties, Norma finally decided to report this crime to the police to help her heal. Officials told her that despite DNA evidence proving statutory rape, there was nothing they could do because the 10-year period for reporting was long gone.
Governor Brown, please sign SB813 for Norma and other survivors who are barred from getting justice, despite solid evidence a crime occurred. Because justice knows no time limit.
Ivy Bottini & Caroline Heldman, Ph.D.
End Rape Statute of Limitations (ERSOL) Campaign
The End Rape Statute of Limitations campaign was founded in 2015 to abolish the 10-year time limit on prosecuting rape in California. We are 16,000 campus rape activists, Cosby survivors, Hollywood child star survivors, allies, and others seeking justice for victims of sexual violence.
Ivy Bottini is a pioneering lesbian feminist who worked with Betty Friedan to establish the first chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She successfully fought against the Briggs Initiative, the first homophobic state referendum, in 1978. In 1993, Ivy founded the non-profit organization Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing, Inc.
Dr. Heldman is an Associate Professor of Politics at Occidental College in Los Angeles. She was one of the early architects of the national campus anti-rape movement and co-founded End Rape on Campus (EROC) and Faculty Against Rape (FAR).