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Newsom signs controversial SB 145 into law

SB 145 allows the judge to decide who must register as a sex offender in all statutory rape cases.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 145 into law on Friday.

The bill's author, State Senator Scott Wiener, said the controversy over SB 145 was based on people's misunderstanding of the changes and some lies about it. 

What is SB 145?

Current California law treats cases of statutory rape differently depending on what type of penetration occurred.

For cases involving a young adult and a minor where vaginal intercourse took place, a judge can decide whether or not to place the person convicted of statutory rape on the sex offender registry.

Before SB 145, the judge had to order that the person convicted to register as a sex offender should the rape include oral or anal 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.

This bill does not change the fact that it is illegal for an adult to have sex with a minor. SB 145 was meant to affect cases where the minor is a teenager between ages 14 to 17, and the offender, an adult, within a 10-year age range.

Why does this law matter?

Wiener (D-San Francisco) said in a press release that this new law was "ending blatant discrimination against LGBTQ young people." 

"It's appalling that in 2020, California continues to discriminate against LGBTQ people, by mandating that LGBTQ young people be placed on the sex offender registry in situations where straight people aren't required to be placed on the registry," Wiener said.

Wiener said the bill faced strong opposition from a "massive Trump, QAnon, and MAGA misinformation campaign.

"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." 

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, the 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.

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