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Rapists could face life-long prosecution

January 28, 2002
By: Kathryn Handley
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Rapists would face the threat of prosecution for the rest of their lives under a measure given first-round approval by the Missouri House Monday.

By voice vote, the House gave preliminary approval to legislation that would remove the statute of limitations for forceable rape, forceable sodomy, attempted rape, and attempted sodomy.

"If we fast-track this bill, we can send a loud message to the people of Missouri that you can't get away with rape," Rep. Ralph Monaco, D-Raytown.

The proposal would overturn a state appeals court ruling that a prosecutor must file charges within 3 years after the crime.

"This is a 3-year clock that keeps ticking," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. W. Craig Hosmer, D-Springfield. "And every year we don't do something, we lose more people that we can't prosecute."

Rep. Tim Harlan, D-Columbia, said he supported the bill. "I think it's a good idea," he said. "In view of the changes we've had in DNA evidence, I think these changes are appropriate."

Hosmer said that advances in DNA evidence have it possible to concretely identify a rapist if he is later arrested for another crime

However, Hosmer said the bill does not have a retroactive application. If the bill passes, it would only remove the statute of limitations on rapes that happened in the last 3 years and any future rapes. The new bill would not apply to rape cases in which the statute of limitations has already expired.

Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson, D-Columbia, said she supported the bill.

"We should not hamper our justice system or the victims by putting artificial restrictions on such a serious crime," she said.

The bill faces one more vote in the House before going to the Senate.