(From Press Release) – AB 2888, by State Legislators Asm. Bill Dodd (D-Napa), Asm. Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) and Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo and Santa Clara), passed the State Senate Public Safety Committee Tuesday by a unanimous 6-0 vote. The bill will ensure that anyone convicted of sexual assault in California cannot be sentenced to probation. The legislators worked with Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen in crafting the proposal. The bill next goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee for a hearing in August.
“Sexually assaulting vulnerable victims who are intoxicated or unconscious is a reprehensible crime and we need to treat it as such. Sentencing a felon convicted of such a crime to probation re-victimizes the victim, discourages other victims from coming forward and sends the message that sexual assault of incapacitated victims is no big deal,” said Assemblymember Bill Dodd. “This bill is about more than the sentence, it’s about supporting victims and changing the culture on our college campuses to help prevent future crimes. I’m thankful that our Senate colleagues joined Assemblymember Low, Senator Hill and I in advancing this much needed reform.”
Under current law, not all forms of sexual assault involving penetration are included in the list of offenses that would trigger a mandatory denial of probation. Current law clarifies that a defendant’s use of force triggers a mandatory prison sentence. However, when a victim is unconscious or severely intoxicated, the victim is unable to resist, and the perpetrator does not have to use force. In supporting the bill, members of the Public Safety committee expressed dismay at this differential treatment.
“I’d like to thank Chairwoman Hancock and the Committee members for their vote today. Rapists like Brock Turner shouldn’t be let off with a slap on the wrist,” said Assemblymember Evan Low. “Judge Persky’s ruling was unjustifiable and morally wrong, however, under current state law it was within his discretion. While we can’t go back and change what happened, we can make sure it never happens again.”
“I am so grateful to the members of the Public Safety Committee, as well as Assemblymen Evan Low and Bill Dodd, for bringing us closer to protecting the next Emily Doe against the next Brock Turner. They not only read Emily Doe’s now famous letter, but they clearly understood it as cry for change. A natural consequence of drinking too much is a hangover, not a sexual assault,” said Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen.
In March 2015, Brock Turner, a Stanford University student was convicted on 3 felony counts of sexual assault of an intoxicated and unconscious woman. Despite the fact that the defendant was eligible for a sentence of up to 14 years in prison, Judge Aaron Persky sentenced the defendant to 6 months in jail and 3 years’ probation. The sentence has been justifiably criticized by many as unethically lenient, given the horrific nature of the crime.