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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon House Votes To Extend Statute Of Limitations For Rape

M.O. Stevens
Wikimedia Commons -

A measure moving through the state legislature would give rape victims in Oregon more time to come forward to report an attack.

The Oregon House voted Wednesday to double the statute of limitations for first degree sex crimes. Under current Oregon law, rape victims have six years to report an attack. This measure would change it to 12 years.

Critics, including criminal defense attorneys, said evidence can be lost and memories can fade over time. But supporters, including Democratic Representative Jennifer Williamson, said there are many reasons why rape victims may not come forward right away.

"Whether it's PTSD, fear of retaliation, and the lack of resources that we offer victims, it often leaves them without an understanding of their options,” she said. “And that's all while this six year clock is ticking."

The measure passed the Oregon House 59-0 and now heads to the Senate.

At six years, Oregon's current statute of limitation on rape is among the shortest in the nation. Some states have no limit on when rape can be prosecuted.

The measure would not change existing Oregon statute of limitations for rape victims under the age of 18. Minors already have until age 30 to report a sexual assault, regardless of when the crime was committed.