Gov. Jerry Brown Signs SB 978

Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 978 into law. This bill, authored by Senator Mark DeSaulnier, and sponsored by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley, provides a significant change to a law that ensures victims of sexual assault receive timely rape crisis counseling services. SB 978 allows a hospital to notify the local Rape Crisis Center when a victim arrives for a medical or evidentiary physical examination after a sexual assault. Prior to the passage of this bill, only law enforcement was required to notify the Rape Crisis Center.

Existing law requires the police to immediately notify the local Rape Crisis Center when a victim of an alleged sexual assault is transported to a hospital for any medical evidentiary or physical examination. However, not every sexual assault victim notifies law enforcement. This legislation allows the hospital to call a Rape Crisis Center directly without having to first contact law enforcement.

In 2011, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed SB 534, another bill sponsored by District Attorney Nancy O’Malley. SB 534 authorized special funding to pay for forensic medical examinations for victims and survivors of sexual assault under circumstances where the victim has not engaged with law enforcement. By adding this simple language to include that a hospital can also notify the rape crisis center, all victims will be able to receive these vital Rape Crisis Counseling services.

“Every sexual assault survivor is entitled to the assistance of a rape crisis advocate or counselor, whether or not she chooses to immediately notify law enforcement of the assault,” states D.A. O’Malley. “I am grateful to Senator DeSaulnier for his dedication to this important piece of legislation and to Governor Brown for signing it into law.”

The bill is supported by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, California Communities United Institute, California District Attorneys Association, California Police Chief’s Association, and Californians for Safety and Justice.

Contact: DDA Teresa Drenick
(510) 272-6280
Alameda County District Attorney’s Office

Posted on Jul 18, 2014