Good and Bad in New State Sexual-Assault Bills

A look at 12 new anti-rape measures gaining traction in the states.



There's been a flurry of state legislative activity concerning sexual assault so far in 2016, as USA Today reported last week. At least 20 states are looking to reform the way police and prosecutors handle the collection and processing of DNA evidence following sexual assaults, leading to dozens of new bills. But that's not all. States have been embracing a host of other efforts aimed at combating sexual violence—some good, some bad, and some harder to assess. Here's a look at some of those that have seen action recently:

No custody for rapists:Maryland bill would allow courts to terminate parental-rights upon finding "clear and convincing evidence" that a child was conceived via rape. 

No alcohol charges for underage victims: Wisconsin recently passed a bill ensuring that sexual assault victims under age 21 won't be charged with underage drinking if they are intoxicated when they report an assault.  

Cabby consciousness-raising: A New York City bill would require taxi, car-service, and ride-sharing service drivers to take a training course on sexual assault.  

Sex-ed expansion: Virginia legislators recently passed a bill requiring the teaching of "age appropriate" material on dating violence, sexual harassment, and sexual consent as part of school curriculum. 

Stopping serial offenders? A Maryland bill would end the state's prohibition on bringing up a defendant's prior charges for sex offenses of which they were not convicted during subsequent sexual assault trials. Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said 10 states have passed similar laws.

Cosby's Bill: An Oregon measure that cleared the House and Senate this week extends the 12-year statute of limitations for first-degree sex crimes if new corroborating evidence arises or multiple victims newly come forward.

Don't call the cops: A bill in Delaware originally aimed to make it mandatory for college administrators to report campus sexual assaults to local police. "We felt that the way the reporting system worked within the colleges and universities was that the first person you would report to would be a college employee," said Sen. Karen Peterson (D-Del), one of the bill's three sponsors, "and we felt that in some of those cases people were perhaps being talked out of bringing criminal charges." But the original measure received so much backlash that it was revised; the now-toothless bill merely require administrators to offer to report assaults to police if students wish and to inform victims of their rights. 

Yes means yes: Connecticut legislators have been hearing testimony on an affirmative consent bill that would establish "yes means yes" as the official standard at Connecticut universities sand colleges.

Showing restraint: A New Mexico measure signed into law earlier this month allows sexual-assault victims to seek permanent restraining orders against their assailants.

No limits: Colorado lawmakers want to add rape to the short list of crimes with no statute of limitations for prosecutions. 

Rape-kit collection: A Virginia bill passed recently would require forensic evidence to be stored indefinitely for felony sexual assault cases and allow rape-kit evidence to be collected and processed even if a victim does not immediately want to press charges.

Bar coded: A bill approved by the Washington state legislature would create a statewide tracking system for rape-kit processing and storage.  The system will use a bar code on every rape kit to said Rep. Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines), who sponsored the bill.

NEXT: U.S. Marshals Spent Millions on Mass Cellphone Tracking Devices

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  1. Rape? I’m against it! And burning kittens.

    1. *Weeps openly as he joins in the cheers*

  2. Wow, there’s a lot of awful stuff in there.

    1. One almost feels as if one needs a rape shower.

  3. A New York City bill would require taxi, car-service, and ride-sharing service drivers to take a training course on sexual assault.

    That’s ridiculous! Why omit bus drivers and train conductors?

    1. Doing anything they can to fuck with wannabe Uber drivers.

    2. I thought taxi drivers and ride-sharing service providers had a pretty decent handle on how to do sexual assault. At least based on the panic stories about people being raped by their Uber driver.

    3. Wow, they want to train these people in sexual assault? That seems . . . counterproductive.

    4. Onions.

  4. 1) Ok I can see some logic in this, but what of those cases where the rapist is the woman?

    2) UM, bad bad idea. Basically you just encouraged every underaged girl who gets caught drinking to cry rape

    3) I’m sure that whatever politician is behind this is “friends” with the people who will develop the curriculum

    4) Not bad in theory, depends on the curriculum that gets developed and who is deciding what is “age appropriate”

    5) If it means bringing up cases for which they were never tried I can see this making sense, however if they are bringing up cases in which they were tried and acquitted I have a problem with it.

    6) Sorry, even 12 years is too far for most sex offenses. I don’t care how credible the alleged victims are or how many of them there are there simply would not be any actual evidence on which to adjudicate the case.

    1. 7) The original bill was a good idea and just like there are mandatory reporters for child abuse I am sick and tired of women crying rape but not wanting to press charges. I am sorry, if you were actually raped and refuse to see the perp pay for his crime then you are little more than an accessory and you are perpetuating rape culture. Sure we shouldn’t compel the women involved to cooperate with the investigation but if they tell people in positions of authority then those people should be required to pass the info along to the police so they can investigate.

      8) Yes means Yes is just another way to say “all men are rapists and all sex is rape” and you just need to hope she never decides she wants you punished. Further I would argue that unless the “victim” clearly and unambiguiously communicated their lack of consent or was clearly too incapacitated to consent then it wasn’t rape and I don’t give a damn what their “lived experience is”.

      9) No way that won’t be abused. This just gives jilted women one more reason to cry rape so they can punish the guy.

      10) see #6

      11) Probably a good idea but still, whether or not to press charges should not be up to the victim. They could refuse to cooperate but if the prosecutor believes he has enough to convict without her then they should go forward.

      12) Don’t know wjy this requires a law and wasn’t just SOP.

    2. I have a big problem with 5, even if they were never tried. Unfounded allegations are easy to make, and that’s about all it takes these days in rape cases to have charges brought up.

      1. Yeah, in the example that’s driving the law, a man was acquitted in a case where it seems there was pretty clear evidence he did it, and they say if they were able to bring up past times he was charged (/charges dropped? acquitted? it’s unclear) it would have been different. There are supposedly five other cases, and he has a string of convictions on other violent charges. But, like… goddman. What are the police/prosecutors doing wrong here, then? It seems like they should have been able to have made this case. If they can’t, I think people need to look at what they’re doing wrong, rather than changing sort of fundamental rules of american jurisprudence to compensate

        1. The prosecutors, judges and police would prefer to erode everyone’s rights as a defendant than to actually be expected to do their job somewhat competently.

        2. Prior bad acts are traditionally difficult to introduce as evidence that the defendant committed the specific bad act they are accused of.

          Naturally, prosecutors hate this.

          1. Especially prior bad acts that were never actually proven to be connected to the accused. That’s the opposite of evidence.

    3. #2 – that can’t be said enough.

  5. No alcohol charges for underage victims: Wisconsin recently passed a bill ensuring that sexual assault victims under age 21 won’t be charged with underage drinking if they are intoxicated when they report an assault.

    I can’t see how that could possibly incentivize any fraudulent rape allegations.

  6. Cosby’s Bill:

    Is it really called “Cosby’s Bill”? That’s unusually witty for legislators.

    1. Well, for legislators, I guess.

      I was thinking “Bill’s Bill”.

  7. No alcohol charges for underage victims: Wisconsin recently passed a bill ensuring that sexual assault victims under age 21 won’t be charged with underage drinking if they are intoxicated when they report an assault.

    Instant way out of underage drinking citation!?

    Cabby consciousness-raising: A New York City bill would require taxi, car-service, and ride-sharing service drivers to take a training course on sexual assault.

    Would it be in bad taste to make a STEVE SMITH’S GUIDE TO SEXUAL ASSAULT joke here?

    1. Yeah, you know its going to happen.

      “Young lady, you are underage and drunk off your ass. I’m going to have to write you up.”

      “I WUZ RAPED! By [looks around] that guy! Yeah, him! Totally raped me in the butt!”

      “Well alrighty then, charges dismissed.”

      1. It’s already happened. I know a guy that it happened to. The girl weaseled her way out of drunk and disorderly charges by saying she was raped, by some guy she never even talked to, he was literally the only one with a penis in her vicinity so he won that lottery. Then the idiot guy got scared by the cop’s threats, and plead out without ever consulting a lawyer.

        It’s just going to be colossally more common once it’s official policy.

    2. This Steve Smith stuff goes right over my head. Are you guys talking about the football player?

  8. A New York City bill would require taxi, car-service, and ride-sharing service drivers to take a training course on sexual assault.


    Is this a how to course and is there a lab component?


    Steve Smith


  9. “end the state’s prohibition on bringing up a defendant’s prior charges for sex offenses of which they were not convicted during subsequent sexual assault trials.” This is a BAD idea. Previous convictions should certainly be presented, but NOT mere accusations (in rape or any other cases).

    Think of the implications for the innocent, especially in today’s “feminist” agenda-driven environment. An unsupported “morning regret” date rape accusation at 18 used to support a wholly unrelated charge at, say, 40?

  10. The eliminating a statute of limitations seems like a really terrible idea. I’d have a very hard time proving that the woman I hooked up with at a club 20 years ago in Denver had consented should she decide next year it was rape.

    1. Is it bad that this almost encourages the use of drugs to ensure they don’t remember your face and/or name?


  11. I like the (apparent) definitive-ness of the “yes-mean-yes” CT bill. Anything is better than the “yes, yes again, sure breakfast would be great, see you later, wait who is that other girl, yes counselor this happened six months ago but I have been busy and I definitely just decided I was assaulted” rule.

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  13. The entire country needs to focus on the fact that he US military rapes civilians in larger numbers than any group and nothing is being done!


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