A proposed bill related to the state budget may make alleged victims of the Golden State Killer or East Area Rapist eligible for restitution from a fund used to compensate victims of crimes.
Senate Bill 858, which has passed the Senate budget committee and is now being considered by the Assembly’s budget committee, was introduced at the behest of Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration. It’s expected to receive a vote in both houses over the next few days.
If it passes, the California Victim Compensation Board will be able to compensate victims who come forward before the end of 2019. Normally victims of a crime must seek restitution from the board within three years of the crime being committed.
Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. has been charged in the shooting deaths of two people in Sacramento and 10 more counts of murder in three other counties. He’s also suspected of committing around 50 rapes across the state in the 1970s and ’80s.
His arrest came at the end of a four-decade manhunt for the serial burglar and rapist who often hit multiple homes in one night, stole mementos from his victims or taunted them later with phone threats.
The bill is “in recognition of the difficulties that victims may experience in receiving benefits from our program given the delay in the identification and apprehension of the Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist,” wrote California Victim Compensation Board spokeswoman Janice Mackey.
“With the recent arrest of a suspect, many victims are reliving the trauma of the crime.”
After DeAngelo’s arrest in late April, the board began to hear from victims across the state, a State Department of Finance spokesman said.
So far, 25 victims in four counties have reached out to the board. In addition, the board and the California Office of Emergency Services have been coordinating with representatives from 10 counties where DeAngelo is suspected of committing crimes.
The number of victims will probably grow as counties make contact with more people who were affected. For example, Sacramento County created a tip line about the Golden State Killer and East Area Rapist and is “reportedly receiving many calls from previously unknown victims who were victimized during the period in which the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer was actively committing crimes,” a Department of Finance spokesman said.
“At this time, the board estimates 50 direct survivors and about 12 family members.”
It’s not clear how much each victim would receive. Compensation depends on the financial losses and harm claimed by victims.
Mackey said that if the bill becomes law, the amount victims would get would “depend upon the benefits available on the date the crime was committed.”
“In 1974, the maximum benefit amount was $10,000, and in 1986 it was $46,000,” she said.
The money in the State Restitution Fund comes from the various payments convicted criminals are forced to make.
This is not the first time lawmakers have proposed legislation that would seek to compensate victims of specific extraordinary crimes. Mackey noted that after the 9/11 attacks, the Legislature passed a bill providing additional funds to compensate victims.
Similarly, in 2010, the family of Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was kidnapped by a paroled rapist and subsequently gave birth to his two daughters, received a $20-million settlement from California under an agreement approved by lawmakers.