Public Safety Measures by Senator Stern Clear First Legislative Hurdle

Committees vote unanimously in favor of legislation to promote justice for victims of child sexual abuse and human trafficking

April 18, 2017

(Sacramento) – A set of public safety initiatives by State Senator Henry Stern are moving forward in the Legislature after receiving unanimous approval in their first committee hearings today. The bills aim to provide additional assistance to victims of child sexual abuse (Senate Bill 756) and modernize anti-human trafficking efforts (Senate Bill 225).

“I am authoring this measure today to help address the serious mental health needs of children who have been victims of sexual violence and are being denied justice under our current system,” remarked Senator Stern when presenting SB 756 during the committee hearing.

Co-sponsored by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office (LADA) and the Crime Victims Action Alliance, Senate Bill 756 closes a loophole in the law so that children who are under the age of 14 and have been victims of serious sex crimes will receive noneconomic restitution to cover mental health services necessary to treat psychological trauma. The Senate Public Safety Committee voted to approve SB 756 after hearing testimony from Senator Stern and a child abuse prosecutor with the LADA.

“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 LADA. “These are victims who go on to suffer from reoccurring 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.”

“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,” concluded Mr. Hatami.

Today the Senate also voted to approve SB 225, a bill to update California’s human trafficking hotline to include the option of texting in addition to calling for victims and witnesses to alert the proper authorities of trafficking situations. National and statewide anti-human trafficking hotlines have become an important tool for law enforcement in recent years, generating thousands of tips to help them identify survivors and bring perpetrators to justice.

Just last month, Ventura police arrested three individuals on human trafficking charges after a young woman called the hotline to report her situation and whereabouts to the authorities. State law requires certain businesses to display the National and Statewide hotline telephone numbers for assistance. SB 225 requires the National Human Trafficking Hotline text number “233-733 (Be Free)” to be included in the notice as well.

“When something seems 'off' about a situation, speaking out can save a life,” remarked Senator Stern. “SB 225 is an important step to modernize our statewide anti-human trafficking hotlines so that more individuals can join in the fight against this modern-day form of slavery.”

SB 225 is supported by the National Council of Jewish Women CA, the California National Organization for Women, Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), Hadassah, and Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association.