State Senator Fran Pavley’s (D-Agoura Hills) Senate Bill 1091, a bill to help increase convictions of perpetrators against children and other vulnerable victims by helping them testify without fear, was approved by the Senate Public Safety Committee on a unanimous, bipartisan vote.
SB 1091, sponsored by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, will provide trial assistance for victims of child pornography, pimping, pandering and for sex trafficking. Current law allows trial assistance for crime victims testifying for preliminary exams; trials involving homicide, elder and dependent abuse; rape and most crimes, but it does not include the assistance for certain sex crimes against minors and other victims.
Senator Pavley said this bill closes the loophole in the law. Senator Pavley said, “Victims in child pornography cases are in need of protection and the comfort of a support person. If they are called to testify, they have to recall horrific and traumatic experiences.”
Jim Provenza, Special Assistant District Attorney with Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office said, “This legislation would give the child the right to have up to two support persons present during court testimony. Experience has demonstrated that the presence of support persons helps victims testify accurately and completely.”
Provenza added, “Testifying in court is a very traumatic experience for a young child, particularly a victim of human trafficking or other sex related crimes. Ms. Kathleen Cady, Deputy District Attorney from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office Victim Witness Assistance Program testified on the importance of providing support for traumatized victim’s testifying in emotional court trials.
Senator Pavley said, “SB 1091 could help provide humane support to witnesses critical in the prosecution of approximately 126 pornography cases, 97 prostitution cases and 3 human trafficking cases in Los Angeles County alone.”
SB 1091 now moves to the Senate Floor for consideration of the full Senate. In addition to the bill’s sponsor, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, other supporters include the California Police Chiefs Association, California Communities United Institute, California Victims United of California, the Junior Leagues of California and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking.