April 11, 2019

Senator Haskell Stands Against Sexual Violence, Supports Key Bills

SDO Photo

State Senator Will Haskell speaks Wednesday at a Senate Democrats press conference, where Senators advocated for legislation including increased protections against sexual assault and harassment.

HARTFORD, CT – This week, State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) voted in favor of legislation putting stronger punishments in place for sexual assault and sexual harassment. By voting Wednesday in support of Senate Bill No. 3, “An Act Combatting Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment,” also referred to as the “Time’s Up” bill, and House Bill No. 7396, “An Act Concerning Parity Between Sexual Assault in the Case of a Spousal or Cohabitating Relationship and Other Crimes of Sexual Assault and Concerning the Investigation of a Family Violence Crime,” Sen. Haskell and the Judiciary Committee worked to support victims and strengthen protections against sexual violence.

The “Time’s Up” bill extends the timeframe in which an individual can file a lawsuit for sexual assault, and requires additional sexual harassment training sponsored by employers. Compared to other states and the District of Columbia, the five-year statute of limitations for rape in Connecticut is one of the shortest in the country. Twenty-five other states have no statute of limitations for rape, while another 20 have limits longer than in Connecticut.

The bill would extend existing limitations from five years to no limit in the event of felony sexual assault in Class B and C, meaning instances of forced or drug-aided rape, and from five years to 25 years in the event of forced sexual contact. It also eliminates the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of minors, eliminates the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims against adults, and contains sexual harassment training requirements for employers with at least three employees.

“Every employee deserves to feel safe in the workplace. Full stop,” said Sen. Haskell. “The tragic, harrowing and challenging stories we continue to hear exemplify why we need to tighten regulations and extend current limitations. Thanks to Senator Flexer’s hard work, Connecticut will catch up to the rest of the country in the realm of victims rights and become a leader in the realm of sexual harassment prevention. I hope this vote will send a message to victims of sexual assault and harassment – we believe you, and we support you.”

House Bill No. 7396 would repeal current language in state statutes concerning sexual assault in spousal or cohabitating relationships, specifically repealing the state’s separate spousal rape law. This outdated statute prevents some victims of sexual violence from accessing various legal protections because they are married to or live jointly with their abuser. After repealing this language, the bill would then replace it with new standards and statutes that protect married and cohabiting individuals.

“This change is necessary to protect victims, correcting an oversight in current state statutes that doesn’t provide the same protection to a victim based solely on the identity of their abuser,” said Sen. Haskell. “The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Susan B. Anthony Project and State Victim Advocate, to name a few, have all supported this legislation, and for good reason. Rape is rape, whether you’re married to someone or have never met them before.”