Monday, June 16, 2014

Proposed California Law Aims to Reduce Sexual Assaults on College Campuses

A proposed California Law (Senate Bill 967) aims to reduce sexual assaults on college campuses or, at least, to increase investigations into allegations of non-consensual sexual encounters among college co-eds. The essence of the bill seems to put the onus on the person wanting to initiate sexual activity to ensure that he or she has been given "affirmative consent" (i.e. consent which is 'informed, freely given, and voluntary'). The so-called, "only yes means yes" standard is one way that the consent standard set forth in the bill has been described.  In other words, the onus is on the sexual aggressor to prove that there was clear and unequivocal consent to sexual activity as opposed to arguing that they "didn't say no."  In fact, the proposed bill (see full text of bill here) states as follows: 

"Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent."

This bill comes on the heels of what many feel is a sexual assault crisis on college campuses in California.  Oftentimes, victims are made to feel "at fault" or are interrogated and blamed for the incident.  Many also feel that investigations into alleged sexual misconduct are not thorough enough due to a lack of any concrete definition of consent, which the bill intends to address.  It will be interesting to see if the bill passes either in its present form or after some modifications. As an attorney that represents sexual assault victims in California, I am interested to see how the state legislature ends up on this issue and will continue to monitor progress and keep you informed.

For additional information or assistance in filing civil claims for damages related to sexual assaults on any college campus in California, click here