Access to Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault or Harassment

Every day is a tough day for survivors of sexual assault or harassment. There is no place in our society for this kind of behavior, and I condemn it entirely.

But this past weekend also brought positive steps forward, as President Obama signed a bill that I helped introduce earlier this year — called the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act — into law. This law marks progress towards providing the nearly 25 million brave Americans who are sexual assault survivors with a standard set of legal protections and clear procedures to ensure access to justice. I’m proud to have been a part of this small, but hopefully meaningful, effort.

As a husband and father, I know that nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our children, families, and communities. As a new Member of Congress, I have heard firsthand from my constituents how devastating it is to be a survivor. That is why, since coming to Congress, I have looked for ways to attack this problem head-on. Here are some of the other bills that I have cosponsored to strengthen the way we prevent and prosecute sexually-based crimes:

  • H.R. 5896: Intimate Privacy Protection Act: As the lead Republican sponsor, this effort would strengthen criminal penalties for individuals who knowingly distribute an explicit visual depiction of another individual over the Internet or through social media without the depicted individual’s consent.
  • H.R. 1310: Campus Accountability and Safety Act: This comprehensive legislation would require colleges and universities to revise campus security policies, including entering into Memorandums of Understanding with local law enforcement agencies to delineate responsibilities and share information about certain serious crimes, including sexual violence, on campus.
  • H.R. 5749: Interstate Sextortion Prevention Act: This bipartisan legislation would address what the U.S. Department of Justice recently declared as “the most significantly growing threat to children” and make online sexual extortion — or “sextortion” — a federal crime by creating offenses for the interstate coercion of sexual acts, sexual contact, or sexually explicit visual depictions. Currently, federal law does not explicitly count sextortion as a separate offense, a problem that can lead to unprosecuted or under-prosecuted crimes.
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