Thursday, September 4, 2014

California Passes College Campus Sexual Assault Bill

California has become the first state in the nation to pass comprehensive legislation to address sexual assault on college campuses.  The so-called "yes means yes" bill requires "affirmative consent" from both parties to engage in sexual activity.  As reported today by the Los Angeles Times, the bill requires all colleges and universities in CA who receive any type of government funding or assistance to implement detailed policies to address investigation and actions related to reported sexual assaults, date rapes and domestic violence on college campuses.

The bill is deemed the "yes means yes" law because it requires clear and unequivocal consent to engage in sex and specifically states that such consent cannot be given by a person's silence or lack of resistance nor can it be given by an intoxicated individual.  The bill (SB 967) was co-written by California State Senators, Kevin de Leon (D. - Los Angeles) and Hannah-Beth Jackson (D. - Santa Barbara).

The University of California board of Regents has already implemented many new policies on reporting and investigation of sexual assaults on state university campuses (enacted this past March). This bill comes on the heels of a class action lawsuit currently pending against Occidental College by numerous female students who allege to have been the victim of an inept system to report and investigate their claims of sexual assault on campus.  There may be additional, similar claims coming out of this legislation in both California and other states, in my opinion as an attorney representing sexual assault victims.  Many of these claims have been filed in various states under various state and federal laws including Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.  Because of these claims, there is also proposals for federal legislation similar to California to address these issues. (See story here).