“Bill Cosby” Law to Take Effect in California

DSC01152_2 (2)_2In Canada there is no statute of limitations for criminal offences. If you committed a robbery,sexually assaulted a person, or even murdered a person decades ago, the law is coming for you, if they find sufficient evidence to prosecute. Admittedly, historical cases are more difficult to prove: evidence is lost, witnesses die, and memories fade, but Canadians recognize that a crime is a crime is a crime and the passage of time ought not to excuse an offender of his or her criminal wrongdoings.

Not so in the United State, where criminals can beat the system if they have not been prosecuted within certain proscribed time periods. ¬†Justification for limitation laws include that an alleged offender ought not to have to defend himself after a lengthy period of time has passed, again because of lost evidence, faded recollections and other “fairness” arguments. That this approach clearly prejudices victims has apparently fallen on deaf ears, until now.

This week California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law that changes the limitation period in California for rape and other sexual molestation cases from 10 years to 20 years commencing in ¬†2017. California’s limitation law reforms are not at the leading edge as ¬†Nevada and Colorado amended their laws earlier this year, again expanding the period to 20 years. All of these legal reforms arise from the allegations of at least 30 women who say they were drugged and assaulted by Mr. Cosby.

According to the California Women’s Law Centre, 17 other States in America have no limitation period for rape.

California attorney Gloria Allred represents 30 women in the Bill Cosby case, most of whom have no legal recourse because of the limitation laws on the books in most states. She notes that the legislation is not retroactive, so it will not apply to her clients.

Proponents of the new law explain that it “tells every rape and sexual assault victim in California that they matter and that, regardless of when they are ready to come forward, they will always have an opportunity to seek justice in a court of law.” California state Senator Connie Leyva who brought the bill forward said in a statement. “Rapists should never be able to evade legal consequences simply because an arbitrary time limit has expired. There must never be an expiration date on justice!”

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Gay to Straight Therapy Banned in Calfornia

DSC00476 - Version 2Controversial “gay conversion” therapy will no longer be used in California to treat children 18 and under who seek to change their same-sex attraction to heterosexual attraction.

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a Bill prohibiting state licensed therapists to engage in treatments intended to assist gay and lesbian kids to change their sexual preference, a law that comes into effect on January 1, 2013.

Proponents of the new law argue that therapies designed to alter a minor’s sexual orientation have been scientifically shown to be ineffective. Homosexuality as a psychiatric diagnosis was completely removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health in 1986, and in 2005 the American Psychiatric Association rejected the proposition that therapy could be useful for those who wished to “go straight”.

In 2007 Professors Stanton Hope from the prestigious Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois and Mark Yarhouse from Regents University in Virginia Beach joined forces in a study to test the APA’s theory that therapy was of no use.

Thirty-five of their original 98 participants dropped out almost immediately, leaving 65 research subjects at the conclusion of the study. The data was obtained through the organization called Exodus International, a Christian group whose mandate is to give homosexuals “freedom through Christ”.

Drs. Hope and Yarhouse published their results, finding that 23% of their group reported no change, 30% opted for celibacy, 20% embraced their orientation, while 23% reported they were “cured” with no harmful psychological aftermath.

However, critics say their lack of scientific rigour suggests their research is flawed and unreliable. Others say that their results do show behavioral changes, which are different from changes in sexual orientation.

What exactly is conversion therapy? It has been described as encompassing intrusive aversion treatments, drug therapy, Christian informed psychoanalysis, and spiritual intervention. Critics say the treatment brings on shame, grief, and anxiety causing patients to suffer depression and increased suicidal tendencies.

Critics of the new law have already filed lawsuits challenging the legislation on the basis that it breaches constitutionally guaranteed rights, such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion. They say the law is a disgusting abuse of government powers and a tyrannical interference with parental rights, who alone should determine how to help their child.

Until the law is overturned, a result that I believe is highly unlikely, therapists who continue to practice “gay to straight” therapy will be disciplined for unprofessional conduct.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang