Legislation to close what prosecutors call a loophole in California’s sex assault law, a provision that kept a former Stanford student out of prison after a brutal campus attack, cleared its first legislative hurdle in Sacramento on Tuesday.
“Simply put, rape is rape,” said Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), the bill’s author. “We believe there should be consistency in addressing this issue.”
Assembly Bill 2888 was quickly introduced in the wake of public outcry over the six-month jail sentence given to Brock Turner for the sexual attack on an unconscious woman after a campus party. Under existing law, Turner was eligible for a sentence that included probation instead of prison.
Santa Clara County Deputy Dist. Atty. Alaleh Kianerci, who prosecuted Turner, told state senators at Tuesday’s hearing that the trauma experienced by the victim was no less than that of any other rape victim.
The woman who was attacked has continued to remain anonymous, identified only in court documents as Emily Doe.
“We all need to try to protect the next Emily Doe,” said Kianerci.
Anyone convicted of eight specific sexual assault crimes would no longer be eligible for probation under AB 2888, with most of the crimes being ones that involve alcohol and any other “intoxicating or anesthetic substance.”
Several lawmakers said that the bill may be best seen as addressing the larger problem of how to punish sex crimes on college campuses.
“It’s about changing a culture and preventing future crimes,” said Assemblyman Bill Dodd (D-Napa), the bill’s co-author.