Testimony of the Division of Criminal Justice

S.B. No. 847 (RAISED): An Act Concerning the Elimination of Sexual Violence on College Campuses

Joint Committee on Higher Education and Employment Advancement
February 1, 2011

The Division of Criminal Justice would respectfully recommend that the Committee amend S.B. No. 847, An Act Concerning the Elimination of Sexual Violence on College Campuses, to address several concerns with the definitions and wording of the bill.

The definition of sexual assault should be expanded to include violations of Sec. 53a-70b, Sexual Assault in a Spousal or Cohabiting Relationship, especially since the definition of intimate partner violence includes violence against a partner or a spouse.  Similarly, Section 53a-79b should be included in the bill’s definition of intimate partner violence.

The wording of the definition of “intimate partner violence” should be changed to make it clear that it does not apply to psychological harm that might be suffered by someone because of an act that was not criminal in nature.  For instance, the bill as now written could be read to apply to situations where a person feels remorse, psychological harm, after a fully consensual sexual encounter. A better approach would be to change the wording to “intimate partner violence means the infliction of physical, sexual or psychological harm against an individual as a result of a sexual assault under section 53a-70, 53a-70a, 53a-70b, 53a-71, 53a-72a, 53a-72b or 53a-73a of the general statutes, stalking ... or domestic violence as designated under section 46b-38h of the general statutes.” The concern here is the use of the word “includes.” It suggests that it includes the sexual assaults, etc., but also can include acts that are not specifically identified in the definition.

With regard to the person who inflicts the harm, the bill should define the type of partner involved. If means sexual partner it should so state.

Finally, with respect to the last portion of the definition, it is not clear what is meant by the phrases dating violence or sexual violence.  Perhaps that can be clarified to mean those crimes designated as domestic violence crimes under 46b-38h committed against anyone in a dating or sexual relationship.

The Division of Criminal Justice appreciates this opportunity to express our thoughts on this bill and would be happy to provide any additional information or answer any questions the Committee might have.