New Law Defends Victims of Sexual Assault
Holmes’ bill enables claimants to receive protective orders
Representative Lindsey Holmes’ (D-Anchorage) House Bill 307 protecting victims of sexual assault has passed the Alaska State Legislature and now moves to the governor’s desk for final approval.
“This bill makes it easier for sexual assault victims – especially those in rural communities – to obtain protection from their assailants,” Rep. Holmes said. “I am extremely gratified by the entire Legislature’s quick passage of HB 307. Their prompt action shows both houses and both parties can come together on important issues. I look forward to Governor Parnell signing it into law.”
Holmes’ bill received the unanimous support of both the Alaska House of Representatives and the Alaska State Senate.
HB 307 amends existing law to explicitly give magistrates and district court judges jurisdiction to grant protective orders in cases of sexual assault. This change is especially important to Alaska’s rural communities, which often have access only to magistrates or district courts.
Statutes for protective orders have been changed twice in recent years. Prior to 2001, protective orders were issued only in cases of domestic violence. HB 1 in 2001 created a new statute extending protections to victims of stalking committed by someone other than a domestic partner. This statute was extended to victims of sexual assault with SB 54 in 2006. However, SB 54 did not amend jurisdiction for magistrates and district courts to issue the orders.
Because the revised statute could be interpreted to mean magistrates and district court judges lacked jurisdiction to issue protective orders in cases of sexual assault, when some claimants brought petitions that clearly required protective orders, judges were unable to offer assistance.“HB 307 repairs a gap in the statute and helps defend all victims of sexual assault in our state from their attackers,” Rep. Holmes said. “I welcome this session’s focus on sexual assault and am glad the legislature has come together to strengthen this tool for victims of sexual assault.”