On Sept. 18, Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with the leaders of the TIME’s UP movement to sign new legislation that extended the Rape Statute of Limitations in the second and third degrees.
The statute of limitations for rape in the second degree was raised to 20 years from five years and for third degree rape it was raised to 10 years from five years.
Cuomo met with Robbie Kaplan from TIME’S UP, Julianne Moore, Mira Sorvino and Michelle Hurd to sign the new legislation.
“A victim of rape has undergone one of the worst traumas imaginable,” Cuomo said. “It is a trauma that can last weeks, months, years, a lifetime of recovery. What did the five years do? It protected the perpetrator. It allowed people immunity. It allowed them to go out and do it again and I believe it was part of a pattern, deliberate or indeliberate, where it was society’s way of covering up the problem.”
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), out of 1,000 cases of sexual violence, approximately 995 perpetrators “walk free.” In addition, out of 230 reported cases, 46 will lead to arrest and only 4.6 rapists on average will actually end up incarcerated.
A person is guilty of second-degree rape when an individual who is 18 or older engages in “sexual activity” with an individual who is 15 years old or younger, or when an individual “engages in sexual intercourse with another person who is incapable of consent by reason of being mentally disabled or mentally incapacitated.”
Third-degree rape is defined as when an individual engages in sexual intercourse with another person “who is incapable of consent by reason of some factor other than being less than 17 years old,” when someone over the age of 21 has sex with someone under the age of 17, or if they have sexual intercourse with an induvial without their consent.
However, according to Section 30.10 of New York State law titled “Timeliness of prosecutions; periods of limitation,” there is no statute of limitations on cases of rape in the first degree.
First degree rape is defined as when someone engages in sexual activity with another person “by forcible compulsion,” who is “incapable of consent” because they are physically helpless, they are younger than 11 years old, or the guilty party is over 18 and the victim is under 13.
Title IX and LGBTQ Coordinator at SUNY New Paltz Emma Morcone said that the extension of the statute of limitations is “essential” because it leaves more time for survivors to consider their options.
“Making a decision on whether or not to pursue a case criminally, or to even report a crime, can be a heavy decision emotionally and psychologically for a survivor,” Morcone said. “It may take survivors many years to make a decision on how they wish to proceed. Many choose not to report their experiences immediately, or at all.”