PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island lawmakers announced Wednesday that the state has published its first “Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights.”
Attorney General Peter Neronha said the new document aims to help specify the rights that victims have, regardless of how willing or comfortable they are with participating in the legal process.
The document also outlines the rights victims have regarding obtaining a sexual assault evidence exam and kit, along with access to the results.
The Bill of Rights was released during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
What are the highlights?
Under the Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights, all victims have the right to:
- Obtain a medical examination and sexual assault evidence kit
- Obtain information regarding their sexual assault evidence kit
- Have their kit preserved
- Choose whether to report their sexual assault to law enforcement
- Be informed as to how to file a report with law enforcement
- Consult with a victim advocate
- Apply to the Crime Victim Compensation Program
- Be informed when there is any change in the status of their case, or if it has been closed
- Designate a person of their choosing to act as a recipient of any of the information they have a right to receive
Anyone interested in reading the full Bill of Rights can do so by clicking here.
Who helped create it?
The Sexual Assault Evidence Kits Act was signed in June of last year, and the creation of the new Bill of Rights was incorporated into that law. It was sponsored by Sen. Tiara Mack and Rep. John Edwards.
“It’s gratifying to see this bill of rights being published, and I’m glad to see this legislation has already had a positive impact,” Edwards said. “Rape is a horrendous, brutal crime, and victims have to live with it for the rest of their lives. A clear, concise enumeration of victims’ rights will help them to navigate the judicial process and preserve their dignity.”
“Sexual Assault victims shouldn’t face barriers to justice,” Mack added. “The Sexual Assault Victim Bill of Rights will lay out the rights of victims as they relate to sexual assault kits and it will also help law enforcement to administer justice more expeditiously for the victims of these terrible crimes.”
The document was developed in collaboration with several non-profits, law enforcement agencies, and lawmakers.
“My office prosecutes far too many sexual assault cases – and yet we know sexual assault is chronically underreported for many reasons,” Neronha said. “This Bill of Rights is a step in the right direction. With knowledge comes power, and victims deserve to know the rights they have and what services are available to them to help them in the aftermath of such trauma.”
If you or anyone you know has been sexually assaulted, contact one or more of the following:
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
- RI Victims of Crime Helpline: 1-800-494-8100, www.helplineri.com
- Day One: 401-421-4100, www.dayoneri.org
- RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence: 1-800-494-8100, www.ricadv.org
- Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center: 401-723-3057, www.bvacri.org
- RI Office of Victims Services: Victim Notification Hotline: 877-744-8463, www.doc.ri.gov/victims/office-victims-services
- Sojourner House: Helpline: 401-765-3232, www.sojournerri.org
- Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center: Hotline: 401-738-1700, www.ebccenter.org
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