Bipartisan support voiced for UConn sex assault bill [WFSB]

April 15, 2015

WFSB 3 Connecticut

HARTFORD, CT (WFSB/AP) – The Connecticut Senate has shown its support for legislation that would launch a sexual assault forensic examination (SAFE) at UConn’s campus in Storrs.

Both Democrats and Republicans voiced support for the bill.

Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, the Senate chairman of the legislature’s higher education committee, said sexual assault victims at UConn currently have to report the incident to the school’s clinic and then travel by ambulance to Windham Hospital.

Under this bill, the UConn infirmary could provide the forensic examination.

Last summer, UConn agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle a lawsuit by five women who alleged UConn did not take their claims of campus sexual assaults seriously.

The bill also requires sexual assault forensic examiners, also known as “SAFE nurses,” receive 40 hours of classroom training and know about legal issues too.

“Victims on our campus deserve to be treated in a place they feel comfortable,” said UConn sophomore Adam Kuegler.
After college students across Connecticut came forward with concerns related to campus sex assaults, lawmakers said they are listening.

“Students came forward with the need for safe nurse legislation to allow victims of sex assaults to have those critical exams done at UCONN instead of the long trip all the way to Windham hospital,” said State Rep. Mae Flexer (D-Killingly).

If the bill is passed into law, it would allow SAFE nurses to administer SAFE kits at properly qualified university and health care facilities.

“Right now, SAFE nurses aren’t accessible enough,” said UConn Sophomore Kassandra Pugliese.

State Senator Kevin Witkos said he supports the bill too, and after almost three decades as a police officer he said he understands the need.

“Now we are one step closer, so their stories only have to be told once,” Witkos said.

The bill won’t get to the House of Representatives until next week and then they have until June to approve or deny the bill.

If approved it will go to the governor for a final signature before passed into law.