The legislation addresses the survivors of sexual assault
Annapolis, MD (KB) Frederick County Delegate Karen Lewis Young has had three bills pass the House of Delegates this session. Her third bill addresses victims of sexual assault.
“What this bill says is that if someone has been the victim of sexual assault and they press charges but the charges aren’t pursued, they have a right to know why,” Delegate Young explained.
Delegate Young said she was inspired to draft the bill after a conversation with a constituent who reported sexual assault. The State’s Attorney decided not to file charges with no explanation to the victim.
“Not only was she very traumatized by the experience, but she didn’t have closure because she didn’t know why charges weren’t pressed,” she said.
Delegate Young said this, unfortunately, happens often.
“We worked with an organization called MCASA and they work with victims of sexual assault,” she said. “They were great supporters of this because they found that this does happen, fairly frequently.”
MCASA is the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
The Delegate also said this bill will help police responders, as they are often caught in the middle. She said she spoke to a member of the Frederick City Police force.
“We’re in an awkward situation because it’s up to the State’s Attorney’s office whether or not to press charges, and we can’t tell the victim why or why not it was pursued,” she said as she recalled the conversation with the officer.
This bill will give the sexual assault victim the right to request a meeting with an Assistant State’s Attorney (ASA) who has knowledge of the case. The meeting must occur within twenty days of the request and an ASA can explain why charges were or were not pursued.
The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault said this legislation will provide survivors with recognition of the trauma they endured. Delegate Young said it will also encourage victims to report sexual assault.
According to Delegate Young, the bill received unanimous support from the Maryland House of Delegates. She said it will likely cross over to the Senate in the coming week.