What Happens When Your Rape Expires?
By Ijeoma Oluo
The allegations came to light the way they always seem to these days: on the internet. What for years had just been rumor was finally being posted in plain words. On Facebook and reddit, posts started showing up by women stating that Jamison Rogayan had sexually assaulted them. Once the posts started, other women came forward with similar stories: Rogayan, a well-known fixture and café owner in Bellingham, Washington — home to Western Washington University and little else — would find an excuse to get these women to his apartment, where he would sometimes drug them or ply them with alcohol and ultimately assault them. Within a few weeks of the first posts, seven women had accused Rogayan of assault.
The revelation that a man who seemingly everyone knew and many liked had been preying on women in this college town for at least six years was a shock to some, and not a shock at all to others. Some people commented on how nice and friendly he was, others on how he had always creeped them out. But the majority seemed relieved when he was quickly arrested on September 25, 2015, and charged with various counts of rape and assault.
But Rogayan is awaiting trial for the assaults of only four of the seven brave women who came forward. For the other three women, charges could not be filed. In Washington State, if victims report their rape within one year, they then have 10 years to file charges. But if they don’t report it within one year, they have just three years to file charges, meaning their rape has — for all legal purposes — expired.
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