First in the nation – Sexual Assault Victims Rights Bill

May 1, 2014

Hartford, CT – State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) ranking member on the Higher Education Committee voted in favor of a proposal that aims to reduce the incidence of sexual assault on Connecticut’s college campuses by strengthening reporting requirements and instituting new protocols to help victims.

“A recent incident at our state university sparked a debate and focused national attention on a national issue, sexual assault on college campuses. Clearly this is not just an issue for Connecticut colleges but all college campuses. In reality what happened and the response of personnel highlighted flaws in the system and those were addressed,” said Sen. Boucher

A thorough review by the chairs and ranking members and interested legislators from both sides of the aisle with the cooperation of higher education institutions resulted in new procedures, response teams and a cooperative agreement with law enforcement and sexual assault violence prevention centers and agencies in the community.

“Connecticut has been at the forefront of this issue. We want to make sure that we have the best processes and procedures,” said Sen. Boucher. The immediate and proper response to sexual assault, stalking and intimate partner violence on campus is of particular importance as many students leave home for the first time when starting college.

“They do not usually have access to the support of family and close friends or their community when a traumatic event occurs. The first responders and staff at their university or college becomes – by default their lifeline in a crisis. The need for immediate sensitive and compassionate response is vital to a victim‘s well-being.”

The legislation, co-sponsored by Sen. Boucher, would:

  • Allow victims including employees of college institutions to report incidents of sexual assault anonymously, provided that doing so does not violate state or federal law.
  • Require schools to provide counseling and advocacy services to students who are victimized off-campus including being sexually assaulted and stalked.
  • Empower bystanders to prevent such crimes by requiring colleges and universities to provide prevention and awareness training to all students and staff, including a clear explanation of what constitutes consent in a sexual relationship and strategies for bystander intervention.

Requires schools to report annually to the legislature about policies on sexual assault, training programs, numbers of sexual assaults and disciplinary action.

Require sexual assault response teams to be put in place on campuses and for universities to collaborate with clinics in their area so students have access to free care.

Sen. Boucher said the bill goes a long way toward strengthening services for victims and streamlining the often confusing campus policies dealing with sexual assault.
“It is important that these new procedures, policies and programs are in place to ensure other students or staff member do not have to endure what those brave women – what those victims went through,” said Boucher. “This is model legislation for the rest of the country. We listened to our students’ call for help. The victims of sexual assault carry this trauma with them for the rest of their lives. This issue was far too serious for us to ignore.”