TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Loretta Weinberg that would exempt rape and domestic victim counselors from having to testify in criminal cases was unanimously approved today by the Senate.
” Studies have shown that having a trusting victim-counselor relationship is essential for assault survivors during the healing process,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “This legislation would allow victims to fully confide in their counselors at all times and know that any information given will not have to be re-counted in a court of law.”
Senator Weinberg’s bill, S-694, would expand the definition of “confidential communications” to include statements given during an interview between a victim, a rape counselor and a law enforcement officer. Victim counselors would also be exempt from having to testify in criminal cases. Under current law, victims are exempt from having to testify in court cases.
“The concept for this legislation came from the Bergen County Rape Crisis Center and from Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli, who felt that the current law provided a conflict of interest in only granting limited protection for victim-counselor privilege. Working through violent acts like rape and domestic violence take time and soul searching, and this legislation would allow victims and counselors to maintain their privacy throughout the healing process,” said Senator Weinberg.
This measure now heads to the Assembly for consideration.