SALEM, OR -- A package of Republican-backed bills in the state Legislature aim to change how alleged sex offenders are prosecuted, and how the Parole Board assesses convicted sex offenders for release. and evaluated for parole.
In 2015, lawmakers doubled the statute of limitations for sex crimes, from six to 12 years. Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) is behind a new effort to bump that to 20 years. "We think this is necessary to make sure that every victim has the opportunity for justice," he said at a press conference this week, "And that we don’t create more victims by not prosecuting those that have committed violent sex crimes."
The other two bills would change the state's assessment system used to consider the release of sex offenders, and would redefine who is considered a "victim" and therefore qualified to testify at a parole hearing.
Tiffany Edens and Danielle Tudor are victims of the "Jogger Rapist." They say Richard Gillmore is an admitted serial rapist. He was paroled as a "Level One" offender in December after 36 years in prison. Edens says the Parole Board's system is broken, "These are rapists, they’re sex offenders, they’re child abusers and it doesn’t work and it’s not adequate, and it’s not protecting our community. And, it’s not protecting me." She added, "I think what people need to see is what rape does to people - to young boys and young girls, to older girls, older boys; it effects you forever."
Tudor said, "This is not a party issue. I hope that everybody can come on board with this because this is really a community issue and a society issue."
Senator Cedrick Hayden (R-Fall Creek) believes the changes would hold the state accountable for the laws it passes and give victims more of a voice, "And I feel like the Parole Board has not been held accountable. And, the fact that a victim could go back and say, ‘I want to review that. I want a say in that assessment.’ First of all, we’ve got 15,000, and about half of them out there that haven’t been assessed. That’s a problem; that’s a dereliction of duty by the Parole Board."
None of the bills are scheduled for a hearing. Bills not posted to a committee agenda by March 17 will not advance this session.