Assemblywoman Maureen O'Connell criticized assembly Democrats for defeating Republican-sponsored legislation identical to Governor George Pataki's Sexual Assault Reform Act of 1998 that passed the Senate unanimously last February. According to O'Connell, the passage of this legislation was vital to better protect women and children from violent criminals and sexual predators.
O'Connell said, "Our legislation represented the first comprehensive reform of New York State's sexual assault laws in 30 years. It would have returned justice to the victims and sent a message of deterrence to violent criminals and sexual predators that actions do have consequences."
The Sexual Assault Reform Act of 1998 would: (1) allow prosecutors to appeal bail sentencing decisions, (2) create new rape and sodomy offenses to punish those who commit "date rape" or "acquaintance rape" crimes, (3) expand the state DNA databank by requiring blood samples from persons who commit serious violent felonies, (4) close the loophole that permits defendants to avoid liability for sex crimes by claiming they did not know the victim was mentally impaired or physically helpless, (5) prohibit bail for those convicted of a class A, B or C felony sex act crime committed against minors under the age of 18, (6) remove the "marital exemption" rule for those who commit certain sex crimes against a spouse.
O'Connell concluded, "Law-abiding citizens deserve a criminal justice system that works for them and not against them. Strengthening the right of victims and ensuring that more innocent New Yorkers do not fall victim to violent criminals and sexual predators is among my highest priorities. I assure the residents of the 17th Assembly District that I will continue to fight for the rights of victims."