Oregon lawmakers pass bill to tackle untested rape kits - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon lawmakers pass bill to tackle untested rape kits

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Oregon lawmakers in Salem passed two bills that will make it easier for victims of rape and sexual assault to get justice. (KPTV) Oregon lawmakers in Salem passed two bills that will make it easier for victims of rape and sexual assault to get justice. (KPTV)
SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

Oregon lawmakers approved two bills on Wednesday that will make it easier for victims of rape and sexual assault to get justice.

The bills will change the law regarding the 5,600 rape kits that currently sit untested in the state and the statute of limitations on prosecuting sex crimes.

Senate Bills 1600 and 1571 passed with an overwhelming majority. SB 1600 eliminates the statute of limitations on first degree sex crimes with non-DNA evidence. That means that with any late confessions, new evidence or accusers, victims can seek prosecution any time.

Rape survivor Brenda Tracy says this is the day she’s been waiting and fighting for.

“I was denied justice and my rapists were allowed to go free, even after they confessed to raping me. But today is my justice. There’s not going to have to be another Brenda Tracy. This won’t have to happen again.”

Mary and Tom Bittler also watched as Oregon representatives voted on SB 1571, or “Melissa’s Law.” It’s named after their daughter Melissa Bittler who was raped and murdered in 2001 when she was 14-years-old. Police did find her killer, but it turned out that two rape kits that could’ve sent him to prison beforehand sat untested for four years.

Melissa’s Law will allocate money and set up a task force to address the backlog. It will require police to pick up a rape kit within seven days of collection and take it to a lab for testing in 14 days.

The Bittlers think this law could’ve saved Melissa’s life and they want to protect other children.

“I am just thrilled that I live in a state that understands the importance of sexual abuse survivors,” said Mary Bittler. “And that the legislature passed this unanimously – thank you.”

The bills will now go to Governor Kate Brown’s desk to be signed into law.

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