On Thursday, Mayor Muriel Bowser will announce new legislation intended to expand the rights of people who have been sexually assaulted, particularly juveniles. The bill will also expand the definition of what actions constitute a crime.
The Washington Post reports that the bill was submitted last week, and she will reveal further details to proposed changes in support of sexual assault victims. One of the biggest new proposals is to provide children as young as 12 who have been assaulted with trained advocates. As of now, only adults are offered that kind of help with their trial and police investigation. Supporters say this step will help victims who may be distrustful of police come forward:
“I think this bill will contribute to more victims and survivors accessing help,” said Michelle Garcia, director of the D.C. Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants. “We know that when victims feel supported, they are more likely to engage with and stay engaged with the criminal justice system. . . . I think it will have a big impact in a number of ways.”
According to NBC Washington 4, the bill would also make it a crime, for the first time, to remove someone’s clothes without consent. It would also require prosecutors to provide their reasons for declining to pursue specific cases.