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Crime, Law and Justice
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.

Sex Crimes Bill On Its Way To Oregon Governor

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Oregon lawmakers voted Wednesday to eliminate the statute of limitations for first-degree sex crimes, including rape. Under current law, prosecutors have 12 years after the crime to file charges.

Democratic Rep. Jennifer Williamson said for survivors of sexual assault, the pain of the crime doesn't go away in just a few years.

"The fear doesn't disappear. The violence doesn't subside,” Williamson said. “And yet the path for rape survivors and survivors of sexual assault to bring their attackers to justice does run out in this state."

But the legislature decided to remove the time limit if new evidence is discovered. The measure passed the House 56-2 and now heads to the governor's desk.

A separate measure approved Wednesday would require the Oregon State Police to clear out its backlog of untested sexual assault evidence kits. A legislative analysis shows the agency has more than 5,000 untested kits. The bill would appropriate $1.5 million to help the State Police speed up its testing.

The measure passed without opposition in either chamber and awaits action by Governor Kate Brown.