Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle to strengthen protections for survivors of sexual assault was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Monday.
The bill (A-4207) modifies the scope of the "Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015," as well as the enforcement of protective orders under the provisions of that act that help protect victims from offenders who committed actual or attempted nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, or lewdness.
Vainieri Huttle was the lead sponsor of the original law, which expanded the availability of restraining orders to a greater number of sexual assault survivors. Prior to that law, in order to pursue a protective order, a victim must have had a previous or existing domestic relationship with the offender, such as a spousal or dating relationship, or had to file a criminal complaint against the offender.
"This bill will augment the landmark Sexual Assault Survivors Act to make it work even better for victims, bringing them greater protection and peace of mind," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "These changes will help tighten the law and eliminate any vagueness that might stand in the way of helping a victim secure protection."
Specifically, the provisions of the bill:
- Require the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families to investigate and possibly pursue legal action when allegations of misconduct against an unemancipated minor by a parent, guardian, or other person having care, custody and control of that minor child, are reported by another parent or guardian. The division could also petition the Superior Court for a protective order and other relief on behalf of the reporting parent or guardian and the unemancipated minor;
- Recognize and provide for the enforcement of protective orders entered under the provisions of a substantially similar sexual assault protection statute under federal law or the laws of another state; and
- Distinguish between indictable and non-indictable violations of protective orders and any such violation, whether representing an indictable or non-indictable offense, would be adjudicated in Superior Court.