A bill eliminating the statutes of limitations for certain felony sex offenses was unanimously passed out of the House Public Safety Committee Thursday.
Rep. Dan Griffey, a Republican from Allyn, introduced House Bill 1155, which would allow prosecutors to bring charges at any time after the commission of some sex crimes, including rape and rape of a child, child molestation, sexual exploitation of a minor and voyeurism.
“Sexual abuse isn’t something victims get over and move on from. It’s something they deal with the rest of their lives,” said Griffey. “What message are we sending to sexual abusers and survivors? The people that commit these heinous crimes should never feel free from prosecution, and victims should always feel like they have a voice.”
Current criminal statutes of limitations laws in Washington differ depending on the age of the victim, the type of crime committed and other factors.
Griffey said it’s important to understand who sexual abusers are in order to understand why victims sometimes wait to come forward about their abusers.
“It’s a teacher, it’s an uncle, it’s a parent, a grandparent, a step-parent, a neighbor, a coach, it’s a pastor,” said Christina-Marie Wright, a sexual abuse survivor who came to testify on the bill during a public hearing Tuesday. “That makes it nearly impossible, especially for children, to come forward and to out these people who should be in what we all think of as the ‘safe zone.’”
Griffey introduced the same bill during the 2016 legislative session, House Bill 2873, but it never advanced beyond the committee process. He said he has worked with stakeholders who were concerned the bill would provide false hope to survivors who sought conviction.
“Slim hope is better than no hope,” said Greg Wright, husband of Christina-Marie Wright.