Bill expanding protection for victims of sexual violence and human trafficking to become law July 1, 2017
David J. Toscano (D-57), Democratic Leader of the Virginia House of Delegates, today announced that Gov. McAuliffe has signed HB 2217, Del. Toscano’s bill addressing confidentiality for victims of sexual violence and human trafficking.
The bill expands the types of crimes victims are eligible to participate in the address confidentiality program. This program protects the personal information, in particular the addresses, of crime victims. Current law permits victims of domestic violence and stalking to apply to this program. With the expansion, victims of sexual violence and human trafficking are now included. The bill also increases the period of eligibility for all crime victims participating in the program from one year to three years.
“This bill is a critical step in ensuring that survivors of horrific crimes like sexual assault get the protection and support they deserve, with the aim of helping to restore a sense of safety, security, and control as they pursue justice and healing,” said Attorney General Herring. “I am so proud this bill is becoming law, and I want to thank Gov. McAuliffe and Del. Toscano for standing with me as leaders in this fight for victims’ rights.”
In responding to the news that the bill would become law on July 1, Rebecca Weybright, Executive Director of the Sexual Assault Resource Agency in Charlottesville, said, “We are very pleased to have this confidentiality program expanded to include victims of sexual violence. This will give added options for safety. As advocates for survivors, safety planning is a crucial part of our work. We are grateful to Del. Toscano for his continuing support of services to survivors of sexual violence.”
“I was happy to carry this bill on behalf of Attorney General Mark Herring,” said Toscano. “It will provide greater protections to those who wish to remain free of contact with their former abusers.”
The Address Confidentiality Program presently includes more than 2,000 participants. Persons are screened by victim assistance programs and the Attorney General’s office before they can participate.
HB 2217 was introduced by Del. Toscano in January and passed the House of Delegates and the State Senate unanimously. It was signed by the Governor and will become law on July 1, 2017.