The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Dane Osen
Felonious Monk 

New Protections for Victims

 


Governor Steve Bullock signed four bills on July 10 aimed to better protect victims of sexual assault. Senate Bills 22 and 26, sponsored by Senator Sue Malek and SBs 29 and 30, sponsored by Senator Diane Sands, provide a process for terminating rights of parents who committed rape, as well as making revisions to the requirements of registeration for sexual and violent offenses. Also accomplished was the elimination of the requirement that sexual assault involve force for it to legally be defined as rape, and an increased statute of limitations from 10 to 20 years for sex crimes committed against children.

I do believe the bulk of these bills will empower victims of sexual assaults and hopefully will deter those who are perpetrating these offenses. SB 29 changes the definition of consent from the previous definition, which held a sex act is only without consent if the victim is compelled to submit by force. The bill removed that text and now reads “an expression of lack of consent through words or conduct means there is no consent or that the consent has been withdrawn.”

These crimes were often tough to prosecute due to language that defined the offense. The requirement that force be involved for the assault to qualify as rape let many offenders off the hook because often victims would freeze instead of fighting back. The bill also creates the crime of aggravated sexual assault which would include rape committed with force, which carries a more severe sentence of 10 to 100 years and fines up to $50,000. Previously, people convicted of the crime would serve a minimum of two years if over the age 16.

SB 22 allows a process for the termination of parental rights of a person who fathers a child by rape.

Previously, parental rights could only be terminated if a case went to trial and resulted in a conviction. The process now allows for a fact finding hearing and must show that there is clear and convincing evidence that a rape was committed resulting in the conception of the child.

SB 30 extends the statute of limitations for victims of sex crimes under the age 18 from 10 years to 20 years. I believe this bill should have done more to completely do away with any statute of limitations for these offenses, but it is a move in the right direction. Hopefully the passing of this bill will make potential violators of these crimes think twice, and put away more of the depraved that actually have committed them.

I think a fair amount of balance has been reached with these bills. Victims of these crimes now have the upper hand, which is great. I imagine that having to revisit these atrocities all over again in vivid detail for investigators, only to have them tell you that there is nothing they can do for you because your attacker didn’t hit you, is probably a feeling pretty close to having it happen all over again.

 

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