Last year’s rape case at Richmond High School in the City of Richmond, CA is getting some attention from the solons of Sacramento.
“individuals who reasonably believe that they have witnessed a murder, rape or lewd or lascivious act with a child under the age of 18 years to notify law enforcement officials.”
Basically, SB840 would update the David Cash Jr. Law, aka the Sherrie Iverson Child Victim Protection Act that was authored by former Senator, current Assemblyman, and future Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. Tom’s law already covers victims aged up to 14 years - Leland’s proposed law would add in victims aged 15 through 18.
The California Senate’s Assistant President pro Tempore at the helm in Sacramento:
“Sherrice Iverson’s mother demanded that David Cash, Jr., be charged as an accessory, but authorities stated there was not enough evidence connecting him to the actual crime, and Cash was never prosecuted for any offense related to the murder. In the weeks following Strohmeyer’s arrest, Cash told the Los Angeles Timesthat he did not dwell on the murder of Sherrice Iverson. “I’m not going to get upset over somebody else’s life. I just worry about myself first. I’m not going to lose sleep over somebody else’s problems.” He also told the newspaper that the publicity surrounding the case had made it easier for him to “score with women.” Cash also told the Long Beach Press-Telegram: “I’m no idiot … I’ll get my money out of this.”
So that’s Item 1.
Item 2: Assemblyman Pedro Nava has authored AB 984, which would cover victims of any age.
So, those are California’s proposed witness crime reporting bills of 2010, so far.
Here’s Senator Yee’s release from this morning, after the jump
Witnesses Must Report Violent and Sexual Crimes Against Children Under New Bill
Senator Yee officially introduces legislation in response to Richmond rape case
SACRAMENTO – Law enforcement officials and child advocates joined Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) today to announce legislation in response to the recent Richmond case in which a 16-year-old girl was allegedly raped repeatedly by a group of young males with as many as twenty witnesses to the crime.
SB 840, authored by Yee, would require individuals who reasonably believe that they have witnessed a murder, rape or lewd or lascivious act with a child under the age of 18 years to notify law enforcement officials. Current law only requires individuals to report such crimes against minors under 14 years of age.
Immediately after the October 24, 2009, incident at Richmond High School, Senator Yee publicly committed to updating the Sherrie Iverson Child Victim Protection Act. In 1997, Sherrice Iverson was killed at the age of 7 in a Nevada casino by Jeremy Strohmeyer. Strohmeyer’s best friend, David Cash, was aware that Strohmeyer was assaulting Sherrice, but did not contact authorities or try to intervene to save Sherrice or lessen her injuries. In response, the California Legislature mandated reporting by those who witness such crimes against minors under 14 years of age.
“It is unconscionable that anyone could witness such a crime to a child and not report it to authorities,” said Yee. “Unfortunately, it has taken another senseless tragedy to highlight the need to further protect children and our collective responsibility as a society.”
“When the horrendous gang rape occurred at Richmond High School, the fact that witnesses stood idly by caused as much public outrage as the brutal acts committed by the suspects,” said Lt. Mark Gagan, Richmond Police Department. “We view the amendment of the existing law as another tool to help bolster law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute crimes against children.”
“Criminals who murder, rape or sexually abuse children should not be able to get away with it simply because the victim is 15 or 16 years old instead of 14,” said San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris. “Extending the age limit to 18 is crucial to protect all children and prosecute abusers. This is exactly what police and prosecutors need to compel witnesses to come forward, investigate these unconscionable crimes, and hold offenders accountable.”
“It is a terrible sign of our times that we need legislation to hold the public accountable to protect minors from violent crimes,” said PORAC President Ron Cottingham. “As the largest public safety association in the nation representing more than 62,000 public safety officers, PORAC is proud to support SB 840 and to continue our mission of increasing the safety and protection of Californians.”
Penalties under Yee’s child protection act would mirror existing law with a misdemeanor offense punishable by $1,500 or imprisonment for up to six months, or both.
“The Richmond case rightfully launched a national outcry,” said Yee. “I hope my colleagues in the Legislature swiftly pass this bill and the Governor signs it into law.”
“We applaud Senator Yee for his commitment to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens by updating the Child Protection Act,” said Christine Ward, Director of Crime Victims Action Alliance.
“SB 840 is part of a larger reaction that California needs to have to end violent crime,” said Robert Coombs, Director of Public Affairs for the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “We look forward to working with Senator Yee to ensure California not only responds but also prevents these crimes.”
SB 840 will likely be considered next month in the Senate Public Safety Committee.
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