The State Senate has given final approval to HB 177 – legislation that would give judges in certain sexual assault cases the discretion to decide whether to release identities.
As issue is a change to a current law which inadvertently allows a defendant in a sexual assault case to keep the name of the accused out of public view by claiming release of the name would lead to identification of the alleged victim. Senator Matt Bartle (R-Lee’s Summit) is the Senate sponsor of a House bill that aims to correct that situation.
“What this bill does,” said Crowell. “Is address an issue that was raised in State of Missouri versus MLS, decided by the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, October 21st, 2008, where a criminal defendant in a domestic abuse case used a statute that we had passed to secret his abusive behavior from the public.”
Crowell says the law that was passed was intended to protect victims, but actually went far beyond its intended purpose.
“Our bill that we had passed a couple of years ago had said that in domestic assault cases that the identity of the parties could be secreted,” said Bartle. “It was intended to protect rape victims and to protect victims of domestic abuse.”
According to Bartle, the court was given no discretion and had to grant coverage and protection to the defendant.
The Senate version of the legislation differs slightly from the version passed by the House. Conferees from the two chambers will have to get together to iron out the differences.