VICTIMS of sexual assault are extremely vulnerable. Yet Washington law doesn’t give them the same protections from their attackers as victims of domestic violence or stalking. This needs to change.
The Legislature is considering two bipartisan bills this session to give sexual-assault victims some parity. One of these proposals must pass the Legislature and become law this year.
Similar measures have passed each house that would allow courts to grant protection orders for victims of sexual assault for a longer period of time, even permanently. Current law sets a maximum time limit of two years. After that the victim has to go back to court to ask for another protection order.
These bills sponsored by Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, and Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, also ease the way to renew existing protection orders. Both passed with bipartisan support. Either would improve the law for sexual-assault victims. It’s good to see lawmakers working together to make needed changes in state laws.
These are necessary changes to give victims of sexual assault the same protections offered in cases of domestic violence, stalking and other kinds of harassment, even when no charges are filed against the accused attacker. Violations of a protection order can result in charges against an attacker.
Fain says this change has taken a long time because of concerns about misreporting and because the protection orders, which are obtained in court, can also allow a judge to limit an attacker’s gun rights. Fain says this year’s proposals strike the right balance between protecting victims and the need for sensible gun regulations.
Fain is correct. This sensible change is long overdue.
The King County Sexual Assault Resource Center has worked with supporters from both parties to push this idea through the Legislature. It’s a common-sense idea that should be approved.