Assembly Passes Simotas Legislation Increasing Protections for Sexual Assault Survivors

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas debating the pay discrimination bill prior to the Assembly vote. (Photo by NYS Assembly)

NEW YORK – Assemblymember Aravella Simotas announced that the Assembly today passed her bill to give sexual assault survivors increased protections and rights (A8401C). The legislation mandates that the state Health Department compile a sexual assault victim Bill of Rights which will ensure that victims are aware of the existing services available to them and the rights they have under New York State laws. Plus the legislation establishes a new “right to notice” so that victims, who request it, will be given information about the status of the evidence processed from their rape kits.

“This legislation will help to ensure that sexual assault survivors are treated with dignity, compassion, and respect in their encounters with the healthcare and criminal justice systems. It is simply common sense and common decency that victims be informed of their rights and not be traumatized a second time,” said Assemblymember Simotas.

The Simotas legislation requires the victim must be given a copy of the sexual assault victim bill of rights that before the commencement of a victim’s physical examination or interview by law enforcement.

It will inform them of:

– The right to consult with a representative from a rape crisis or victim assistance organization before a physical exam or law enforcement interview and the right to have a representative accompany them through the exam and interview.

– The right to appropriate health care services including the forensic examination, HIV post-exposure therapies, and emergency contraception at no cost.

– The right to contact information for the law enforcement entity with jurisdiction over the crime.

– The right to receive updates on the status of their rape kit and whether a DNA profile was developed and a DNA match identified. A prosecutorial agency would be able to delay release of this information prior to the arrest of a suspect.

The same bill (S8977), sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon, is pending in the Senate Rules Committee.