by Ruby K. '20 and Tanisha R. '20
Our names are Ruby (pictured on the far left) and Tanisha (pictured in the middle next to State Senator Manka Dhingra whom we interviewed), and during our junior year, we took an elective called Sexuality and the Law with Upper School history teacher Stephanie Wright. We chose this class because it offered us the ability to look at different topics like feminism, sexual orientation, and gender, through the lens of the law and US political history.
For our culminating project, we decided to make a podcast focusing on the statutes of limitations for sex crimes in the United States and specifically in Washington state. Statutes of limitations are laws that limit the amount of time that legal action can be taken against someone for a crime. In our research, we discovered that Washington had recently changed their statutes of limitations for sex crimes; previously, for a reported felony rape, an adult had 10 years to bring legal charges, but if it was unreported, one had three years. We were surprised to learn that for sex crimes involving children, the statute allowed them until their 30th birthday to press charges, but the average age that one revealed a childhood sexual abuse was 52.
The new bill removed the statute for child sex crimes and doubled the previous statute for adult rape cases from 10 to 20 years, regardless of if the crime was reported or not. The new law passed in the House and the Senate, almost unanimously, and was finally signed by Governor Jay Inslee in April; it just recently went into effect over the summer!
We found many of our resources and interviews had a similar sentiment regarding the extension of sex crime statutes. One of the people we decided to interview was Sen. Manka Dhingra, the senator who proposed the aforementioned newly enacted bill. We also interviewed a detective who worked for the sex crimes division of the Seattle Police Department.
As our project was coming to a close, we decided that we wanted to hear more diverse perspectives on our topic. We saw that there had only been one nay vote in the final House tally for the Washington state bill, and we decided to reach out to that Representative’s office. Unfortunately, Rep. Sharon Santos didn’t have any availability before our project was due. During the summer, though, we were able to schedule a time and hear her opinion and reasoning for voting no on the statutes of limitations. From this interview, we were able to deepen our breadth of knowledge on this topic by strengthening our own views and understanding the other opinion.
Though the project was formally over, our curiosity that we had gained and the information that we still wished to learn pushed us to call and continue our project outside of the class and Lakeside. This is just one of the ways in which Lakeside students, like ourselves, take our learning and passions outside of the classroom!