School Sexual Assault Bills Sent to Virginia Governor

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The Virginia House and Senate passed identical bills on Friday aimed at helping victims of sexual assault and preventing future sexual assaults on college campuses.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe began his work week today with two bills on his desk aimed at protecting victims of sexual assault on college campuses and preventing future sexual assaults.

The bills, House Bill 1930 and Senate Bill 712, would create a sexual assault response team, require college employees to report felony sexual assaults within four hours, give campus safety officers victim sensitivity training and improve victim’s access to information and support services. Both bills were unanimously passed on Friday, according to the News Leader.

Republican Senator Dick Black said lawmakers were careful to keep the bills within the regulations of Title IX, adding that lawmakers “were somewhat boxed in by federal law.”

Some advocate groups associated with sexual assault victims say the people crafting the bill might not understand all of its potential consequences. Organizations such as Virginia21 and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance say the proposed laws could make sexual assault victims less likely to come forward by compromising university staff’s ability to keep reports confidential.