2019 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
Strengthening Protection for Sexual Assault Survivors
This bill clarifies that, to obtain a sexual assault protection order (SAPO), a survivor is only required to allege and prove that she was sexually assaulted; she is not required on top of that to allege and prove that the perpetrator said or did something else that causes her to have a “reasonable fear” of future dangerous acts.
Background: This bill is in direct response to an unjust ruling in a case where Legal Voice filed an amicus brief, in which a divided Washington State Supreme Court ruled that a survivor seeking a SAPO must not only allege that a sexual assault occurred, but also that she has additional reasons beyond the sexual assault to fear her attacker in the future. We believe that this interpretation is incorrect, and that survivors should only need to allege and prove that they were sexually assaulted in order to obtain a SAPO. As Justice Debra Stephens said in her dissent to the Supreme Court’s opinion, “experiencing a sexual assault is itself a reasonable basis for ongoing fear.”
Legal Voice is proud to lead advocacy efforts for this bill in coalition with the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, Sexual Violence Legal Services, and the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs.
Update as of 4/16/19: HB 1149 passed the House with a vote of 81–14, and passed the Senate with a unanimous vote! The bill now heads to Gov. Inslee's desk; it is scheduled to be signed into law on May 7th.
Bill info: HB 1149