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Greenstein Bills to Expand Rights of Sexual Assault Victims and Update Legal Terminology Advance


TRENTON – The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee advanced two bills sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein that would expand the rights of sexual assault victims to include notification of developments in criminal cases and replace outdated legal terminology relating to sexual exploitation or abuse of children.


The first bill, S-1017, also sponsored by Senator Declan O’Scanlon, would expand New Jersey’s “Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights” to give sexual assault victims the right to be informed if significant developments occur in a sexual assault case. Specifically, these developments would include if a DNA profile of an assailant has been obtained, entered into a data bank for retention, been matched with another DNA profile, and if the sexual assault evidence has been submitted to a forensic laboratory. Victims would have the ability to designate another person of their choosing to receive these updates.


“Victims of sexual assault deserve to be up-to-date and aware of all major developments in the investigation of their case, both for their peace of mind and for their safety,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex), Chair of the Law and Public Safety Committee. “This bill will establish that right and give law enforcement more clarity regarding their obligation to share that information.”


The second bill, S-2652,  would update terminology in statutory law pertaining to the sexual exploitation or abuse of children. Specifically, the term “child pornography” would be replaced with terms such as “child sexual abuse or exploitation material”. Among child protection advocates, the updated terminology is thought to better reflect the suffering of children who are the victims of these crimes, and the term “pornography” may carry the implication that the acts were performed with consent.


“This legislation is not intended to, and would not, change the applicability of these terms to criminal actions. It would change our state’s legal terminology to reflect the broader trend among child welfare advocates, and ensure that the terminology we use does not minimize the terrible impact of these crimes,” said Senator Greenstein.


The bills were advanced unanimously.