DC statute of limitations law prevents rape charges - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

DC statute of limitations law prevents rape charges

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The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia is calling on the D.C. City council to eliminate the statute of limitations on sex crimes.

Ron Machen says he wants the change in part because DNA evidence has identified at least two alleged rapists in the last five months who cannot be prosecuted because of the law.

One man was arrested just last week for the rape of a woman in 1999 but the charges were dropped.

In the most recent case the victim was told DNA had identified her attacker but the woman had no clue until a reporter called to tell her the charges had been dropped.

Late Friday afternoon FOX 5 spoke by phone with a woman who was attacked by a stranger in the 1900 block of Ninth Street NW in February of1999.

She says police re-interviewed her last month after telling her of the DNA connection.

"They told me that they got DNA off my clothes," said the victim, "And they would notify me when they picked him up and would let me know if I would be going to court."

But the call never came and instead the victim says she heard only from FOX 5 who told her the charges had been dropped.

Reporter Paul Wagner has this exchange with the woman.

"So I'm the only person to let you know what's happening in this case at this point? "Yes."

On February 19th, 1999 the victim told police she was working at what was then the 1919 Club on Ninth Street NW as an exotic dancer.

When she left the club around three a.m. and began walking down the street to her car she told police a man came from behind, stuck a black gun in her back, forced her to the ground and raped her.

According to the court affidavit the woman told police that after the assault the attacker told her quote, "You got what you deserve." The woman said she told police about seeing a man in the club who fit the description of her attacker but she couldn't remember his face."

Court records show DNA from the assault was entered into the national DNA databank in 2000 and matched with the suspect's DNA after he was arrested in a 2009 drug conspiracy and ordered to give up his DNA.

U.S. Attorney Ron Machen released a statement which reads in part: "The emergence of DNA technology has given us new tools to solve brutal assaults from many years ago, and we should take advantage of those tools to hold criminals accountable. We urge, once again, the D.C. Council to act promptly to remove these artificial barriers to prosecution so that rapists do not get away with their crimes."

A request Ward Three Council Member Mary Cheh says deserves another look.

"I think we should take a look at it," said Ward Three Council Member Mary Cheh who is also a member of the council's Judiciary committee. "Obviously we would have to be careful you know to what crimes, how much longer should we have the statute of limitations, that sort of thing but it is certainly something we should look at."

But for the woman raped in 1999, it looks as if the prosecution is gone forever.

"I was mad because they tried (in the recent interview) to make me remember everything back then and then no justice was served, I suffer panic attacks, I suffer mental mood problems from what happened and then they made me bring it back up, I don't understand, if nothing was going to be done, why bring it back up."

The woman also told us she was fully prepared to testify in court if it ever went that far and she's furious no one ever followed up.

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