There is currently a ten year limit to prosecute felony sex assault in Colorado, but that limit would be doubled to 20 years under a bill given preliminary approval Thursday night.
Rep. Rhonda Fields helped draw up the proposal after meeting two woman who say they were drugged and sexually assaulted by comedian Bill Cosby.
“They are the inspiration behind (the bill,)” Fields said. “I did it for two reasons… closure and justice.”
Beth Ferrier of Denver and Heidi Thomas of Castle Rock say they were assaulted by the television star in the 1980s.
“I was too fearful to report sex assault because of the power of Bill Cosby,” Ferrier said.
“No one would have believed Mr. JELLO Pudding Pop, Dr. Huxtable was capable of sexual assault,” Thomas said. “I would have been laughed off the planet and sent in for counseling. I would have been accused of wanting attention or going after money.”
Cosby has consistently denied assaulting women.
Both alleged victims say they feel comfortable telling their stories now, because other women have come forward and because many others are standing in support.
“The courthouse door should never be slammed shut to prevent rape and sexual assault victims from seeking justice,” said attorney Gloria Allred, who also testified in favor of Field’s bill.
Allred said 58 woman have come forward, accusing Cosby of sexual assault.
“It’s been a long, hard, silent battle,” Ferrier told Denver7, “and I would like to not have anyone of my family members or friends to go through what I personally had to go through.”
She said she’s grateful that Rep. Fields took up the cause, that Allred is pushing for change and that Ferrier is telling her story.
“I am thankful that I am flanked by these incredibly strong women and friends,” Ferrier said. “To get a bill introduced in the State of Colorado, where I live, is remarkable.”
Criminal defense attorney Laurie Kepros spoke out against extending the statute of limitations during the Judiciary Committee hearing.
“We could have prosecutors wait until the most powerful defense witness has passed away before filing a case,” she said. “When a case gets as old as 20 years, it is very hard to investigate.”
But District Attorney George Brauchler said, “I could see a situation where someone has saved emails or texts or where someone confesses to clear a conscience.”
He said in those cases, victims should be able to get justice.
The bill now goes to the full house for a vote.