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Senate doubles time for sex crimes charges

SALEM — The Oregon Senate approved a bill Thursday doubling the amount of time rape or sexual assault victims would have to press charges against their abusers, despite requests from sexual assault victims to expand it even further or get rid of it completely.

The measure would set the statute of limitations at 12 years, up from six.

Sexual assault victims pushed hard to expand it even further, and two amendments, one increasing the limits to 20 years and the other eliminating the statute of limitations altogether, were introduced in a Senate committee.

Neither amendment was taken up, and Senate Committee on Judiciary Chair Sen. Floyd Prozanski said he'd convene a work group to study whether the statute should be expanded beyond 12 years.

Several victims have testified their cases were never tried because the time limits on prosecutions ran out by the time they were ready to come forward. Some said they were happy some changes were coming, but others said lawmakers should have pressed for a longer statute of limitations while they had momentum.

"Every time we do something like this, and you ask survivors to keep coming back and sharing their stories publicly, it begins to take its toll," said Danielle Tudor.

Tudor was sexually assaulted in 1979 by Richard Troy Gillmore, who has been called the "Jogger Rapist." Gillmore admitted to raping nine women, but was only prosecuted for one attack because the others fell outside the state's statute of limitations, which was three years at the time.

Opponents of increasing the time limits have said the six-year statute recognizes that evidence can corrupt over time, making it difficult to prosecute sexual assault crimes years after they occur.

Though the measure passed with unanimous approval, several lawmakers said they were disappointed they weren't extending the statute further.

"I voted yes today on this measure, but OMG. We're gonna do a study on this. Just another study. I don't think we need to do a study on this," said Hood River Republican Sen. Chuck Thomsen.

The bill passed 28-0. It now heads to the governor.