LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Women who said they were sexually molested, assaulted or raped by comedian Bill Cosby met Saturday on his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to rally against the statute of limitations in rape cases.
In many jurisdictions, the statute means victims must come forward within seven to 10 years. It is 10 years in California. But alleged victims, like the Cosby accusers, say there is no time limit for when a victim feels comfortable coming forward.
Many of the women Saturday — some who say they were victims, others who were there to support them — told CBS2’s Greg Mills that they were speaking out but acknowledge that coming forward isn’t always easy.
Some of the victims also said going after a rapist in the criminal justice system isn’t easy either.
“And you certainly don’t want to describe what they do to you,” said Victoria Valentino. “It’s so humiliating and mortifying you feel so dirty and ashamed.”
Every person Mills spoke to at the rally said they know a rape victim. They marched in support of the group End Rape Statute Of Limitations.
Lili Bernard told Mills it took her decades to come forward to even consider filing a police report.
She says it took 46 more women to come forward before she felt confident enough to file the police report in New Jersey.
“However, I was barred from receiving any justice there because I was just a few months outside of the statute of limitations,” she said.
Symbolically, the women marched over Cosby’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“I was raped by Bill Cosby. I was drugged and raped 46 years ago. And it has taken me years, years to be able to call it what it actually was,” said Valentino.
Because many women and child victims of molestation say they sometimes need to process what happened to them, many states have abolished the statute for rape and molestation cases.
CBS2/KCAL9 legal analyst Steve Meister told KCAL9’s Brittney Hopper even if the statute is changed, it will come too late for Cosby’s alleged victims.
“The statute of limitations cannot be revived against Bill Cosby because those statutes are dead. So, if a statute of limitations is still ticking, the legislature can vote to extend it but if it’s dead, it’s dead forever,” he said.
However, Meister says, the law could change for future cases if both houses of the state Legislature and the governor approve it.
Protesters are counting on that. A California state senator, Connie Leyva, D-Chino, is planning to introduce a bill in Sacramento in January that would eliminate the statute of limitations when it comes to rape in California.
(CLARIFICATION: This post has been edited to remove a line in which Lili Bernard says she was misquoted. Ms. Bernard says she feared for her life, but she says Bill Cosby never threatened to kill her.)