SENATE, No. 396

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2016 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JAMES BEACH

District 6 (Burlington and Camden)

Senator  NILSA CRUZ-PEREZ

District 5 (Camden and Gloucester)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senator P.Barnes, III

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires school districts, nonpublic schools, and institutions of higher education to report allegations of sexual assault to law enforcement.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

  


An Act concerning the reporting of certain sexual assaults, amending P.L.1994, c.160, and supplementing chapters 37 and 61E of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    (New section)  a.  Notwithstanding the provisions of any law or regulation to the contrary, in the event that a school district or a nonpublic school receives a report of an alleged sexual assault made by a student enrolled in the school district or nonpublic school, or made by an employee of the school district or nonpublic school, against another such student or employee, the school district or nonpublic school shall immediately notify the appropriate law enforcement authorities of the allegation.           

     b.    Nothing in this section shall be construed to preclude, or in any way restrict, a school district or a nonpublic school from responding to and investigating an allegation of sexual assault made pursuant to subsection a. of this section for the purpose of imposing disciplinary action on the alleged perpetrator of the assault.

 

     2.    (New section)  a.  Notwithstanding the provisions of any law or regulation to the contrary, in the event that an institution of higher education receives a report of an alleged sexual assault made by a student enrolled in the institution or made by an employee of the institution against another such student or employee, the institution shall immediately notify the appropriate law enforcement authorities of the allegation. 

     b.    Nothing in this section shall be construed to preclude, or in any way restrict, an institution of higher education from responding to and investigating an allegation of sexual assault made pursuant to subsection a. of this section for the purpose of imposing disciplinary action on the alleged perpetrator of the assault.

 

     3.    Section 2 of P.L.1994, c.160 (C.18A:61E-2) is amended to read as follows:

     2.    The [Commission on] Secretary of Higher Education shall appoint an advisory committee of experts which shall develop a "Campus Sexual Assault Victim's Bill of Rights" which affirms support for campus organizations which assist sexual assault victims and provides that the following rights shall be accorded to victims of sexual assaults that occur on the campus of any public or independent institution of higher education in the State and where the victim or alleged perpetrator is a student at the institution or when the victim is a student involved in an off-campus sexual assault. 

     a.     The right to have any allegation of sexual assault treated seriously; the right to be treated with dignity; and the right to be notified of existing medical, counseling, mental health or student services for victims of sexual assault, both on campus and in the community whether or not the crime is reported to campus or civil authorities. 

     "Campus authorities" as used in this act shall mean any individuals or organizations specified in an institution's statement of campus security policy as the individuals or organizations to whom students and employees should report criminal offenses. 

     b.    The right to have any allegation of sexual assault investigated and adjudicated by the appropriate criminal and civil authorities of the jurisdiction in which the crime occurred, and the right to the full and prompt cooperation and assistance of campus personnel in notifying the proper authorities.  The provisions of this subsection shall be in addition to any campus disciplinary proceedings which may take place. 

     c.     The right to be free from pressure from campus personnel to refrain from reporting crimes, or to report crimes as lesser offenses than the victims perceive the crimes to be[, or to report crimes if the victim does not wish to do so]

     d.    The right to be free from any suggestion that victims are responsible for the commission of crimes against them; to be free from any suggestion that victims were contributorily negligent or assumed the risk of being assaulted; to be free from any suggestion that victims must report the crimes to be assured of any other right guaranteed under this policy; and to be free from any suggestion that victims should refrain from reporting crimes in order to avoid unwanted personal publicity. 

     e.     The same right to legal assistance, and the right to have others present, in any campus disciplinary proceeding, that the institution permits to the accused; and the right to be notified of the outcome of any disciplinary proceeding against the accused. 

     f.     The right to full, prompt, and victim-sensitive cooperation of campus personnel in obtaining, securing, and maintaining evidence, including a medical examination if it is necessary to preserve evidence of the assault. 

     g.    The right to be informed of, and assisted in exercising, any rights to be confidentially or anonymously tested for sexually transmitted diseases or human immunodeficiency virus; the right to be informed of, and assisted in exercising, any rights that may be provided by law to compel and disclose the results of testing of sexual assault suspects for communicable diseases. 

     h.    The right to have access to counseling under the same terms and conditions as apply to other students seeking such counseling from appropriate campus counseling services. 

     i.     The right to require campus personnel to take reasonable and necessary action to prevent further unwanted contact of victims with their alleged assailants, including but not limited to, notifying the victim of options for and available assistance in changing academic and living situations after an alleged sexual assault incident if so requested by the victim and if such changes are reasonably available. 

(cf:  P.L.1994, c.160, s.2) 

 

     4.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill requires school districts, nonpublic schools, and institutions of higher education to immediately report to law enforcement authorities claims of sexual assault made by students and employees against other students and employees.  Under the bill, in the event that a school district, nonpublic school, or institution of higher education receives a report of an alleged sexual assault made by a student enrolled in the school or institution or made by an employee of the school or institution against another such student or employee, the school district, nonpublic school, or institution is required to immediately notify the appropriate law enforcement authorities of the allegation. However, the bill specifies that its provisions do not preclude, or in any way restrict, a district, nonpublic school, or institution of higher education from responding to and investigating an allegation of sexual assault for the purpose of imposing disciplinary action on the alleged perpetrator of the assault.