Alameda County District Attorney Announces Governor Newsom signed Legislation Requiring Online Portal for Survivors to Track Sexual Assault Kits
SACRAMENTO — Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley announced that legislation sponsored by her office that will help survivors of sexual assault track their sexual assault evidence kits, was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.
Senate Bill 215, authored by Senator Connie Leyva, creates a new victim portal in California’s existing sexual assault kit tracking system, the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Tracking (SAFE-T) database. Survivors of sexual assault will be able to anonymously, and electronically, track and receive updates regarding the status, location, and information of their sexual assault evidence kit. The sexual assault kit tracking system, with its secure victim access portal, allows the survivors to control when they obtain critical information about the status and location of their kits.
“Sexual assault survivors should have the right to know whether their evidence kits have been tested. After bravely undergoing an exam after an assault, this law will provide survivors with the ability to track the kit and the peace of mind to ensure that law enforcement is doing their statutory duty to analyze the evidence in a timely manner,” said DA O’Malley.
Survivors assume their sexual assault evidence kits are being tested, but that is not always the case. California law requires that all law enforcement agencies submit sexual assault kits within 20 days of receiving them and have a crime lab test them no longer than 120 days following receipt.
“I am so proud that we are once again prioritizing and empowering rape survivors by making sure that they able to easily and privately find out where their rape kit is in the process,” said Senator Leyva. “A rape kit exam is invasive and retraumatizing, so survivors should absolutely be able to track their rape kit every step of the way.”
This legislative victory comes after many years of advocacy on this issue. DA O’Malley is a statewide and national leader who has long fought for the elimination of the sexual assault kit backlog not only in Alameda County, but throughout California and the United States. Her advocacy has been key in securing federal funding that enables law enforcement throughout the country to identify and eliminate their own backlogs.
In 2013, DA O’Malley embarked on the task of identifying all untested sexual assault kits in Alameda County and discovered a countywide backlog of nearly 1,900 kits. Although there are currently no untested kits in Alameda County, there is still work to be done in other counties.
“I want to thank Governor Newsom for signing this legislation, our incredible author Senator Leyva, the California Legislature for passing it, as well as co-sponsors the Joyful Heart Foundation and Natasha’s Justice Project for continuing to prioritize the rights of sexual assault survivors,” DA O’Malley stated.
Policy Director Michelle Thomas Shaw Michelle.ThomasShaw@acgov.org
Public Information Officer Angela Ruggiero Angela.Ruggiero@acgov.org (510) 272-6245
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Posted on Oct 13, 2021
On October 9, 2021, a jury found defendant Damone Haynes guilty of first-degree murder for the death of Charles Billings.
On July 26, 2019, Billings was seated inside his van, which was parked along the curb on Bancroft Avenue in Oakland. Haynes and two other men had gone to buy heroin from Billings. They pulled up in a vehicle and approached the van. Haynes shot at the victim twice which caused Billings to fall out of his van and into the street. Haynes continued to shoot Billings five more times while Billings was in the street. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Prior to Billings being shot,
Prior to Billings being shot, one of the men entered the victim’s van. Once Billings fell out of the van, he drove away. The suspect vehicle also fled the scene. The victim’s van and the suspect van caravanned to San Leandro, where the victim’s van was eventually dumped.
Cellphone video connected Haynes to the area of the murder, the drive to San Leandro and the area where the van was abandoned.
The jury also found Haynes guilty of felony carjacking and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was also found guilty of the special allegation of the personal and intentional discharge of a firearm, and great bodily injury.
Co-defendant Anthony Rhodes was found not guilty of all counts, which included murder, carjacking and possession of a firearm by a felon.
DDA Angelina Clay prosecuted the case, with aid from Victim Witness Advocate Tabian Lee and Inspector Eric Milina. Haynes is expected to be sentenced Nov. 5 where he faces 50 years to life in prison.
Posted on Oct 12, 2021
Pandemic-related email scams are on the rise with the increase in delta variant COVID cases and COVID vaccinations. Beware of unsolicited emails that direct you to click a link or open an attachment. These could be “phishing” attempts by bad actors seeking to steal personal information or install malware.
Examples of recent phishing attempts include:
- Emails from scammers posing as human resources departments that ask for proof of COVID vaccination
- Emails from fake health organizations that ask for personal information
- Emails regarding COVID protective measures or treatments
If you receive an unsolicited email with instructions to click a link or open an attachment, read it closely for signs of phishing. These may include spelling or grammatical errors, misspelled web addresses, or slightly altered email domain names. Be cautious about clicking links or opening attachments from emails you are unable to verify as legitimate. Please report potential phishing attempts to the FTC at www.ReportFraud.ftc.gov.”
Posted on Aug 30, 2021
Alameda County District Attorney Announces Bill Protecting Victims of ‘Revenge Porn’ Signed by Governor Newsom
SACRAMENTO — Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley announces that a groundbreaking piece of legislation sponsored by the office was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom to help victims of “revenge porn” have more time to report the abuse.
Senate Bill 23, authored by Senator Susan Rubio, extends the statute of limitations for invasion of privacy cases, commonly referred to as “revenge porn.” The statute will be extended to one year from the time that the victim discovers any images or intimate materials posted—rather than a year from their posting.
“The posting of intimate or private photos and videos without consent is not only invasive, and turning increasingly common, but a form of image-based sexual abuse. This new law will ensure that California can protect victims of this horrible crime,” said DA O’Malley. “I want to thank Governor Newsom for signing this important piece of legislation and our author Senator Rubio for being a champion for victims of crime.”
Cyber revenge is an invasive crime, which often involves the online posting of private or intimate photos of another person without the person’s consent. In many cases, the pictures are taken over the course of a relationship and while the victim may have consented to the original taking of the picture, he or she did not consent to the electronic distribution of the images. Typically, these photos are posted to social media sites to shame, embarrass, harass, and intimidate the victim.
“Perpetrators of domestic violence sometimes use the release of private, intimate images as another tool of coercive control,” said Senator Rubio. “It’s an attempt to shame and intimidate the victim, with the plan to provoke long-lasting trauma in their personal and professional lives. I want to thank Governor Newsom for signing this bill, and my colleagues for their support. This will give victims, who often don’t find out until much later that the images have been released, more time to seek justice.”
PDF of Press Release
Posted on Oct 7, 2021
Beware of Charity Scams
Tragedies like earthquakes and wildfires can bring out the best in people, with many seeking to help victims with financial donations. Unfortunately, this also provides scammers with opportunities to take advantage. Consider taking steps to protect yourself from charity fraud and ensure that your donation goes to those who need it.
- Check your charity’s rating with the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.
- Other sources such as Charity Navigator and CharityWatch can provide information about how specific charities operate and how they use their donations.
- Beware of telephone solicitations. Avoid providing credit card numbers or other personal information to unknown callers. Don’t rely on caller ID as scammers can make calls look like they come from specific organizations.
- Avoid donating by wire transfer, cash, gift card, or virtual currency. Instructions to use payment methods like these are red flags of a scam. Pay instead by credit card or check.
- Watch out for donation requests posted to social media that contain sentimental pleas but provide few details about the organization. Don’t assume the solicitation is legitimate just because it was shared by a friend.
- Look up the charity using the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search to see if your donation may be tax deductible.
Report possible charity scams to:
- The FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov
- The District Attorney’s Office Consumer Protection Unit
- The California Department of Justice’s Charity Complaint site
Posted on Oct 6, 2021