Sep 6, 2016 6:59 PM

House votes to ensure rights for sexual assault survivors

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation outlining a federal bill of rights for survivors of sexual assault, following a national outcry over the sexual assault of an unconscious woman by a former Stanford University swimmer.

The House bill would ensure that survivors in federal criminal cases have a right to a sexual assault evidence collection kit, to be told of the results and to be notified in writing before the kit is destroyed. Lawmakers said they are troubled by the number of untested rape kits that remain in the country, despite efforts to reduce a national backlog.

Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Calif., one of the bill's sponsors, said she hopes it can serve as a model for states, which she said now have an uneven patchwork of laws across the country.

That patchwork all-too-often "prevents sexual assault survivors from having full access to the justice system," Walters said.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.., said the bill would give sexual assault survivors additional rights in seeking justice and help them recover from trauma.

The bill heads to the Senate, where similar legislation was approved this spring.

Former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner registered as a sex offender Tuesday in Ohio, where he's living with his parents.

Turner was convicted of assaulting a woman last year near a trash bin after they drank heavily at a fraternity party. The woman passed out, and Turner was on top of her when confronted by two graduate students passing by on bicycles.

The case exploded on social media and ignited a debate about campus rape and the criminal justice system after a letter the accuser read at Turner's sentencing was published online.


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