Bi­par­ti­san ef­fort would re­move statute of lim­i­ta­tions

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Joey Bunch Joey Bunch: 303- 954- 1174, jbunch@den­ver­post. com or @joey­bunch

The leg­is­la­ture soon will con­sider a bill in­spired by the sex- abuse al­le­ga­tions against co­me­dian Bill Cosby. State Rep. Rhonda Fields and Sen. John Cooke would re­move the statute of lim­i­ta­tions on sex- as­sault ac­cu­sa­tions.

The Colorado leg­is­la­ture soon will con­sider a bill in­spired by sex- abuse al­le­ga­tions against ac­tor Bill Cosby.

State Rep. Rhonda Fields, a Demo­crat from Aurora, and Sen. John Cooke, a Repub­li­can from Gree­ley and the for­mer Weld County sher­iff, would re­move the statute of lim­i­ta­tions on sex­as­sault ac­cu­sa­tions.

At least two women in Colorado say they were drugged and as­saulted by the 78-year- oldTV icon. Dozens of women have come for­ward with al­le­ga­tions dat­ing as far back as the 1960s, and some are frus­trated by laws that place time lim­its on when vic­tims can pur­sue charges.

Cosby has been charged in one case. He was ar­rested Dec. 30. Pros­e­cu­tors al­lege Cosby drugged and sex­u­ally as­saulted An­drea Con­stand at his Penn­syl­va­nia man­sion in 2004.

Colorado has a 10- year limit, ex­cept when the vic­tim is a child younger than 15, in which case there is no lim­i­ta­tion.

Beth Fer­rier, 56, of Den­ver and Heidi Thomas, 56, of Cas­tle Rock are among Cosby’s ac­cusers. Both were as­pir­ing mod­els with the Den­ver tal­ent agency JF Im­ages in the mid- 1980s, when they said they were drugged and as­saulted by the ac­tor. Cosby was a friend of JF Im­ages founder Jo Far­rell.

Fer­rier and Thomas ap­proached Fields, a well- known ad­vo­cate for crime vic­tims, to in­tro­duce a bill elim­i­nat­ing the time limit.

“They wanted to pay it for­ward,” Fields said, not­ing that the bill would not be retroac­tive. “This law won’t help them, but it could help a lot of oth­ers.”

She said peo­ple who are raped or sex­u­ally as­saulted “don’t stop be­ing a vic­tim af­ter 10 years. Why should a vi­o­lent crime just ex­pire be­cause of a time limit?”

Cooke said ad­vance­ments in tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing DNA, make the statute of lim­i­ta­tions an en­cum­brance on jus­tice for a vi­o­lent crime that leaves life­long trauma.

“There are ad­vance­ments to solve cases now,” Cooke said, cit­ing the 1977 rape and mur­der of Gree­ley con­ve­nience store clerk Mary Pierce, 22. Mar­cello Mal­don­ado-Perez was ar­rested in 2009 in Port Char­lotte, Fla., af­ter his DNA was linked to the cold case when Cooke was sher­iff.

Fields said with Cooke’s sup­port and the sup­port of other law en­force­ment lead­ers, the “com­mon sense” bill will pass.

Thirty- four states put time lim­its on sex- as­sault ar­rests, ac­cord­ing to the Rape, Abuse and In­cest Na­tional Net­work.

Sex as­sault against an adult could join other crimes with no lim­i­ta­tion on pros­e­cu­tion, in­clud­ing mur­der, kid­nap­ping, trea­son and sex as­sault on a child younger than 15.

“This law isn’t about Bill Cosby,” Fields said. “This is about be­liev­ing women and men when they say they have been as­saulted and want their case heard.”

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