Calif. bill would expand definition, sentencing of rape

SACRAMENTO - A measure that would expand the definition of rape to include the sexual assault of an unconscious or mentally challenged person passed unanimously in a Senate committee Tuesday.

The bill was inspired by Audrie Pott, a 15-year-old student from a Saratoga high school. She was sexually assaulted while unconscious at a house party in 2012. She later committed suicide.

The three teens accused of raping her were sentenced under the juvenile justice system with penalties of 30 to 45 days.

"I think it will be clear that if you do that kind of crime and you're a juvenile, you will get a minimum of two years and possibly more. So it is a good thing," Sen. Jim Beal, D-San Jose, said.

At the committee hearing, Pott's parents testified that photos of their daughter lying unconscious with words scribbled on her body were shared on Facebook. Audrie Potts relived the rape because of it.

Senate Bill 838 calls for a criminal sentencing enhancement if the offender shares e-photos or text messages regarding the crime to identify, harass and bully the victim.

Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety opposes language in the measure that would allow a juvenile to be tried as an adult.


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