Flexer calls for sex assault bill

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Regional - posted Mon., Feb. 3, 2014

State Rep. Mae Flexer (D-44) is throwing her support behind the introduction of a bill that would address the prevention of sexual assault on the state’s college campuses. “A community-wide commitment to changing culture and the conditions that allow that violence to occur is the best approach to preventing sexual assault and domestic violence on college campuses,” Flexer said.

The new bill would address issues that came to light in a high profile case against the University of Connecticut in 2013. More than five female students alleged that the school violated their rights and did not handle their reports of sexual assaults properly.

The bill would require colleges to explain to victims, in a straightforward manner, all the regulations that apply in sexual assault cases. “A victim needs to know, in plain language, what her rights are and what her options are going forward,” Flexer said.  Those options could include a campus judicial process or legal recourse. 

The bill calls for colleges to partner with local sexual assault crisis centers or local domestic violence programs in the event of sexual assault or intimate partner/dating violence.

"Almost half of all dating college women surveyed in a national poll report experiencing some form of violent or abusive dating behavior," said Flexer. "It is critical that we work with our state's colleges and universities to ensure adequate policies that protect and support victims, as well as hold offenders accountable for their actions."

A public hearing in the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee on the bill will be held on February 11, at 10 a.m. If they approve it, the bill will head to other committees of cognizance for review. If the bill costs money, or if it carries penalties and fines, it will have to go before the Appropriations or Finance Committees and the Judiciary Committee. The bill has the support of every female member of the General Assembly, Flexer said.

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