Gov. Brown signs tougher bills on sexual assault

By Forrest Lee Jones

After much controversy over the sexual assault of a female student named Emily Doe at Stanford University by not her classmate, Brock Turner, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed two bills to increase the punishment for such offenses, reports Jazmine Ulloa of the Los Angeles Times.

Assembly Bills 701 and 2888 were signed into law at a time when police agencies and the criminal justice system are under strict scrutiny for mishandling sexual assault cases. Gov. Brown also signed into law a bill by Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), spurred by the high-profile case of Bill Cosby, that will remove statutes of limitations for specified sex crimes.

Law enforcement groups applauded the governor’s decision, saying imposing harsher punishment for sex crimes was a move in the right direction, the L.A. Times reported.

Some crime victim advocates and associations object to the laws because they say the laws will negatively impact people of color who already lack effective representation. Natasha Minsker, director of the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy and Policy, says the laws will only continue to create injustices in an already unfair system.

Assembly Bill 2888, authored by Evan Low (D-Campbell) and Bill Dodd (D-Napa), prevents a judge from giving probation to anyone convicted of certain sex crimes such as rape, sodomy and forced oral copulation when the victim is unconscious or unable to resist because of an intoxicating, anesthetic or controlled substance. Evan and Dodd say the new law closes a loophole in the existing law.

“This sends the strongest possible message that rape is rape, and in California, if you do the crime, you’re going to do the time,” Low told the L.A. Times.

Assembly Bill 701, authored by Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) and Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), makes the legal definition of rape more broad to include all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault when a judge is considering the sentence of a defendant and when connecting victims with services. Assemblywoman Garcia said she was moved to sponsor the bill when she learned that the victim in the Turner case was not permitted to call the crimes against her “rape.”

When Santa Clara prosecutor Alaleh Kianerci, who represented Emily Doe in the Turner case, suggested that Doe make her letter public, she had no idea that Doe’s letter would have such widespread impact.

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