The New Jersey state legislature has passed a new and long overdue bill instituting protections for victims of sexual violence. The bill, sponsored by Assembly Democrats, establishes a Sexual Assault Victim’s “Bill of Rights.”
The bill now goes to the Governor of New Jersey who is expected to quickly sign it into law.
Commenting on the significance of the bill’s passage, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle stated, “New Jersey has made advances in the recognition and protection of the rights of crime victims and survivors. Unfortunately, victims of sexual violence are often faced with blame and doubt. Survivors of sexual violence should be heard, their trauma should not be neglected. No victim of sexual violence should feel discouraged from proceeding with their complaints or feel shame for their experience. We must ensure that all survivors feel safe, supported and believed. With this legislation, it is my hope that we can empower victims of sexual violence to come forward, and better serve them when we do.”
The first two of eleven rights included in the Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights are: (1) to have any allegation of sexual assault treated seriously; to be treated with dignity and compassion; and to be notified of existing medical, counseling, mental health, or other services available for victims of sexual assault, whether or not the crime is reported to law enforcement; and (2) to be free, to the extent consistent with the New Jersey and United States Constitutions, from any suggestion that victims are responsible for the commission of crimes against them or that victims were contributorily negligent or assumed the risk of being assaulted. The full list of rights can be viewed here.
Assemblywomen Carol Murphy further commented, “all victims of sexual violence have the right to be treated with respect, dignity, empathy and a non-judgmental attitude. This bill makes clear that victims have the right to be free of any suggestion that they are responsible for the violence committed against them, and have the right to have the sexual assault treated seriously and in accordance with their ability and willingness to proceed legally or personally to recoup their losses from any such violence. It’s the right approach to finally ensure victims receive the help they need.”
As noted by Insider NJ, the state Attorney General will be required to incorporate the rights and services listed in the “Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights” and the “Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015,” in the Attorney General Standards for Providing Services to Victims of Sexual Assault so as to ensure that victims of sexual violence receive sensitive and compassionate treatment when seeking services.
Learn how you can file a confidential sexual abuse lawsuit. For information on Lieff Cabraser’s work on behalf of victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault across the U.S., visit our sexual abuse and misconduct cases page.