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Hoquiam senator single-handedly stops child rape bill

State lawmakers have heard tearful pleas this legislative session from victims of child rape who advocate the statute of limitations be eliminated. A bill with that provision passed unanimously in the state House recently. But it appears destined for oblivion because a state Senate chairman won’t hear the bill.

In Washington, a person who is raped as a child has until their 28th birthday to report the crime. If there were no statute of limitations, an adult could be prosecuted for rape of a child whenever an accuser gathers the courage to speak up. That could be decades later.

State representatives have concluded rape is hard to come to terms with, so child victims should have a lifetime to come forward.

But the law won’t change in Washington unless Hoquiam Democrat Sen. Jim Hargrove changes his mind. He argues more people could be endangered if victims don’t promptly report:

“People don’t report for a very long period of time and therefore their cases are unprovable which means we never hold the perpetrators accountable and in the meantime, those perpetrators are creating more victims.”

Oregon’s version of a similar measure is still under active consideration. Idaho eliminated its statute of limitations for child rape in the year 2000.

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.