A bill has gone to Governor Nixon that would do a number of things for victims of sexual abuse in Missouri.
One provision in the plan would allow, for the first time, victims of sexual assault to seek orders of protection against their attackers.
Colleen Coble, Chief Executive Officer with the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, says a protection order is more than just a piece of paper.
“It is a recognizable, enforceable order of the court, and it also can allay the concerns of a lot of survivors that they have to be continually looking over their shoulder and worried about ongoing harm or threats from a person who has obviously already harmed them,” Coble told Missourinet.
Missouri Kids First Deputy Director Emily van Schenkhof says the bill would also allow the state to intervene when a child is being abused by another child.
“Our statute that governs how our child welfare system works requires that the person who is committing the alleged offense against the child had care, custody, and control [of the child]. So when our hotline received calls from folks who were concerned about being sexually abused by other juveniles, those other juveniles typically didn’t have care, custody, and control.”
Van Schenkhof says that typically meant nothing would happen to stop the abuse from continuing, “and so we were leaving children who were being molested by juveniles in really bad situations.”
The bill would also add to the definition of a sexual assault in regards to an order of protection, a lack of consent.
“A lack of consent is now a part of the definition of a sexual assault or sexual offense for orders of protection. That covers someone who is incapacitated, who is incapable of consent, who is passed out, who is on medication or who is disabled,” said Coble.
Both advocates expect Governor Nixon to sign the bill.
“This is in line with issues and priorities that the governor has acted on both when he was in the Missouri Senate, when he was attorney general, and now governor,” said Coble.
“I think the governor is going to love this bill,” said van Schenkhof.
The legislation is SB 341.