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Senate expands time to prosecute child sex crimes

OLYMPIA -- The Senate voted unanimously this morning to expand the time a person can be charged with sex crimes against a minor.

Under Senate Bill 5100, a suspect in a sexual assault, molestation, incest of indecent liberties case could be charged at any time before the victim turns 30.

The proposal is the latest version of an effort in recent years to expand the statute of limitations on sex crimes involving children. Some previous efforts have left open the time when such a charge can be filed, although law enforcement officials argued that would offer victims false hopes because the chances of obtaining a prosecution diminish as years pass.

"This does strike a balance," Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said, giving victims time to report and police a chance to catch offenders.

A person who commits a sex crime against someone who is less than 18 years old could be prosecuted for that crime until the victim turns 30. Current state law says that first and second-degree child rape involving a victim 14 or under can be prosecuted until the victim reaches 28, but only if it is reported in the first year. Cases involving a victim between 14 and 18 can be prosecuted for 10 years, if it is reported within a year.

The bill now moves to the House, where previous efforts to extend the statute of limitations on child sex offenses have passed with strong support.

For previous coverage of SB 5100, click here.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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