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California state senator defends controversial SB 145, relating to sex offenders

Senate Bill 145 would expand discretion for judges, in certain cases, to exempt mandatory sex offender registration.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As Senate Bill 145 sits on the desk of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the lawmaker who authored the legislation is defending it from online criticism.

State senator Scott Wiener says controversy over SB 145 is based on people’s misunderstanding of the bill and some lies about it. 

What is SB 145?

Current California law treats cases of statutory rape differently depending on what kind of sex is had.

For cases involving a young adult and a minor where vaginal intercourse took place, a judge has discretion whether to place the person convicted of statutory rape on the sex offender registry.

The judge does not have any discretion when the case involves anal or oral sex.

SB 145 would eliminate automatic sex offender registration for young adults who have anal or oral sex with a minor. Instead, a judge would make the decision, just as they do now in cases involving vaginal intercourse.

SB 145 would apply only to cases involving minors between the ages of 14-17, and an offender within a 10-year range.

It remains illegal under California law for any adult to have sex with a minor.

The origins of SB 145

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, who authored SB 145, says current law discriminates against the LGBTQ community.

“Senate Bill 145 is an anti-discrimination law," Wiener said. "It ends discrimination against LGBTQ people on the sex offender registry,”

Wiener says the bill has been the "subject of a massive misinformation campaign," and social media posts that claim it legalizes pedophillia are not true.

“A 19-year-old has a 17-year-old girlfriend and they have sex, that is statutory rape. But the law right now says that the judge does not have to put that 19-year-old boy on the sex offender registry because of the kind of sex that they were having,” Wiener said. “But if it's a 19-year-old boy having sex with a 17-year-old boyfriend, the judge must put that 19-year-old onto the sex offender registry, even if it was completely consensual, even if they were boyfriends, even if there was nothing coercive or predatory about it.”

Instead of mandatory sex offender registration for cases involving anal or oral sex, SB 145 would give the judge the same discretion they currently have in cases involving vaginal sex.

The bill has sparked a lot of comments on ABC10’s and Senator Scott Wiener’s Facebook pages, including false claims that the bill would make it so an 18-year-old could rape an 8-year-old.

“This bill has no application to anyone under the age of 14,” Wiener said. “And that age range is an existing category in the law. It has existed for almost 100 years.”

Despite death threats and negative comments directed toward Wiener, his bill passed.

“[It’s been] supported by law enforcement, both the district attorneys and police chiefs support this bill, the rape crisis centers support this bill,” Wiener said. 

The bill is now on Governor Newsom’s desk where he must decide whether to sign it.

WATCH MORE: California Senator Scott Wiener talks SB-145, a bill aiming to help LGBTQ community