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Sexual assault survivor bill of rights clears WV Senate


The Herald-Dispatch

Sen. Mike Woelfel, D-Cabell

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As a doctor was being sentenced Wednesday to 175 years in prison for crimes he committed against more than 100 young female members of the U.S. Gymnastics Team, the West Virginia Senate passed the Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights, the first of two bills aimed at supporting victims of sexual assault.

“People are becoming more aware of sexual exploitation of women and sexual misconduct,” said Sen. Mike Woelfel, D-Cabell, sponsor of the bills. “Rape is such a violent crime; it changes the victim’s life really forever. I once had a client that said she was raped when she was 14 and that’s affected every relationship she’s ever had. She’s 50. It’s such an important topic. I’m pleased we’ve given it attention early in the session.”

Senate Bill 39, called the Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights, spells out rights of survivors of sexual assault. It passed unanimously.

The rights include:

— Having a personal representative of the victim’s choice to accompany them to the hospital and to attend proceedings concerning the assault, including police interviews and court proceedings;

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