TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Fred H. Madden and John A. Girgenti that would establish the “Sex Crime Victim Treatment Fund” to collect and distribute funding for victim counseling received final legislative approval today in the Assembly.
“Traumatic events like sexual assault can cause years of pain and anxiety for victims and their families,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “By requiring sex offenders to fund counseling for their victims, the State is forcing these predators to take responsibility for their actions. Though a monetary value cannot be placed on the damage caused as a result of sexual assault, this measure is a step in the right direction toward helping survivors and their families begin the healing process. “
The Senators’ measure, S-781, would impose fines on sex offenders to cover the treatment and counseling services of assault victims and their families. Persons convicted of sexual assault would be subject to fines of up to $1,000. The monies collected from these fines would be used to fund the “Sex Crime Victim Treatment Fund,” and the Department of Law and Public Safety’s Division of Criminal Justice would be responsible for dispersing the money to survivors.
“Sex offenders leave victims and families with long-lasting and damaging fears, and in order to help these victims, we need to provide treatment that will ease the pain of the attacks,” said Senator Girgenti, D-Bergen and Passaic, who also chairs the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs committee. “The bill will force accountability in those who commit such horrible crimes. Sex offenders need to understand the severity of their crime, and we can help do so by assessing them the cost of the treatment for those they have harmed.”
The measure passed the Assembly unanimously. It also passed the Senate unanimously in June. It now heads to the Governor’s desk, where his stamp of approval would make it state law.