Assembly Committee Approves Stone Legislation to Protect and Assist Victims of Abuse

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO –The Assembly Judiciary Committee has approved with bipartisan support proposed laws by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) that would bring justice to victims of sexual abuse and exploitation.  

“We must do more to protect human trafficking victims, sexually abused minors, and children who have been forced into sex work.  These vulnerable Californians deserve a chance to rebuild lives that are free from abuse,” said Stone.  “This package of legislation helps ensure that the justice system does not punish abused people for the crimes of their abusers.”

AB 1684 gives human trafficking victims the opportunity to seek justice through a civil action and be awarded damages for their suffering.  The measure provides clear authority to the Attorney General, county district attorneys, and city attorneys so that they may bring civil actions on behalf of a victim of human trafficking.  While existing law allows victims to bring civil action against perpetrators for actual and punitive damages, many victims lack the resources to do so.  This bill allows public authorities to bring an action and award damages to the victim. The measure next goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration of its fiscal impact to the state.

Assembly Bill 1702 adds the sexual exploitation of a child for commercial purposes to the list of circumstances under which family reunification is foregone when a child is brought into foster care.  This narrow, targeted bill provides additional legal protections to foster youth who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation at the hands of their own parent or guardian. It also provides new protections in state law that such foster youth are not placed at risk of further exploitation by the very system that is supposed to protect them.  The measure now goes to the Assembly Human Services policy committee for consideration.

Last week, the Judiciary Committee approved Stone’s AB 1682 prohibiting secret settlements of childhood sexual abuse cases in order to make all offenders accountable to the public and law enforcement. While most serious sex crimes that involve minors are felonies, a significant number are either misdemeanors or can be charged as misdemeanors.   Existing law prohibits confidential settlement agreements in cases of sexual abuse that may constitute a felony as being against public policy, but such agreements are not barred in misdemeanor cases.