July 13, 2017
Proposed state legislation aims to help provide mental health services for young victims of sexual abuse in California. According to the bill, those convicted of a crime in California will be ordered by the court to pay a fine in the form of a penalty assessment in accordance with California Penal Code § 1464.
Bill Moving Forward
Senate Bill 756 has moved through the legislative process with a great deal of support. After a final review by the Senate, the bill will shut a loophole in the state law that prevents many young victims of sexual assault from receiving restitution that would cover mental health services needed to treat psychological trauma. The bill would “include in the required restitution order amount noneconomic losses for psychological harm stemming from felony incidents of repeated or recurring incidents of sexual abuse of a child under 14 years of age or from felony incidents of sexual contact with a child under 10 years of age.”
State Senator Henry Stern of Santa Clarita introduced a bill in February of this year which is now headed for the Governor’s desk for signature. The bill enjoyed unanimous bipartisan support in the Senate and Assembly, according to a press release from Stern’s office.
“Our kids deserve better. Victims of sexual violence are being denied justice under our current system,” Stern commented.
The bill was co-sponsored by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and the Crime Victims Action Alliance, and was endorsed by law enforcement.
“The children we are talking about have suffered some of the most heinous crimes imaginable,” said Jonathan Hatami, deputy district attorney with the Complex Child Abuse Section of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office. “These are victims who go on to suffer from recurring nightmares, difficulty sleeping, an inability to maintain a job or complete their education; it takes them a lifetime to recover and we, as a society, should do everything we can to help them.”
Impetus for Legislative Action
Senate Bill 756 was drafted after the news of several cases in 2014 where 15 victims were molested by their soccer coach in L.A. County. Last year several of the victims were not able to get restitution.
There are currently more than 400 pending cases in Los Angeles County alone that would be eligible for restitution pursuant to the law if signed by Governor Brown.
“With SB 756, the perpetrator will be directly responsible for paying noneconomic restitution directly to child victims so they can receive therapy and emotional support,” remarked Hatami of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.
The Cifarelli Law Firm offers free consultations to the victims of abuse, molestation and personal injuries. To talk with a trusted Orange County child abuse and injury attorney, contact us by phone today at (949) 502-8600.