Closing Florida sex assault ‘loophole’ moves closer to Senate approval

The push to rewrite a loophole in Florida’s current sexual assault law is set to face the final Senate committee hearing this week.

The state Senate rules committee is due to vote on SB-868, but the future of companion measure HB-525, sponsored by state Representative Emily Slosberg, is not so clear.

Slosberg told News 6 she was frustrated with the delay and had no indication why anyone on either side of the aisle would push back on the proposed changes.

“We have repeatedly called for the bill to be called,” Slosberg said. “It’s a critical issue and it’s become pervasive on our college campuses.”

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Under current law, if the victim is mentally incompetent but knowingly under the influence of intoxicating drugs or alcohol, the alleged abuser can, in theory, receive a lesser charge.

“It doesn’t matter how the person became incapacitated,” Slosberg told News 6. Whether it’s the person drinking alone or the abuser administering the intoxicant, they should be treated the same. manner.

SB-868, sponsored by State Sen. Linda Stewart of Orlando, is expected to pass the third and final vote at the Senate rules committee Thursday morning.

Stewart, a longtime women’s rights champion, sponsored the measure after members of RAINN — The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network — brought the language to her attention.

The key wording, according to RAINN, assigns some of the blame for the sexual assault to the victim, as the assailant can only be charged with a first-degree felony when alcohol or drugs are “administered without the consent of the victim “.

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“The issue for me is non-partisan,” Stewart said. “I don’t see why we shouldn’t have unanimous support at all levels in every committee.”

Sara Smith Baez, director of Domestic Violence Sexual Assault and Stalking Prevention at Stetson University, said the current law needs to be changed because it creates a double standard.

“I’ve seen several students choose not to use the court system because they were afraid of being blamed,” she said. “There is never a good excuse for a sexual assault.”

The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Subcommittee would be the first of three committees to review Slosberg’s proposed bill.

News 6 made several attempts to contact the committee’s chairman, Rep. Charles “Chuck” Brannon of Macclenny, Fla., to see if the bill would be put on the agenda.

As of this week, no House committee hearing is scheduled in Tallahassee and if the bill is not heard in the House, it will die this session.

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Rep. Slosberg told News 6 that if the bill is not heard, she will continue to fight to get the language changed in the next session.

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