ALBANY, NY – Assemblymember Aravella Simotas on December 3 called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign her Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights into legislation. “I am shocked and horrified by the illegal practice of billing rape survivors for forensic rape examinations, that Attorney General Barbara Underwood exposed last week,” said Assemblymember Simotas.
“One of the most disturbing aspects of this is that a new law might have prevented this travesty but it has been waiting for the governor’s signature for six months, after passing the Assembly and the Senate in June 2018. Until the governor signs it, the law will not take effect,” said Simotas.
“This languishing legislation, that I sponsored in the Assembly, would give sexual assault survivors a copy of a Bill of Rights and it would clearly tell then that the forensic examination is free, as well as HIV post-exposure therapies and emergency contraception,” said Simotas.
The Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights would also disclose to survivors:
- 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 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.
“No rape survivor should be re-traumatized by bureaucracy, ill-treatment, thoughtlessness or lack of transparency in the health care or criminal justice systems,” said Assemblymember Simotas. “In 2016 the governor signed legislation that I sponsored to mandate the speedy processing of rape kits and end the backlog. I urge the governor to now sign the Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights so that our state continues to protect and advance the rights of sexual assault survivors.