Senator Fran Pavley, who represents Woodland Hills in addition to surrounding areas, announced Tuesday her plans to introduce legislation to help protect develpmentally disabled victims of sex crimes who are in state facilities.
The legislation would require that victims in state developmental centers and state pschiatric hospitals receive timely forensic medical examinations.
“We must put an end to the repeated sexual abuse of men and women with developmental disabilities,” Pavley said in a written statement. “Residents of large institutions, like developmental centers and state hospitals, are particularly vulnerable because their isolation and reliance on staff.”
A recent report by California Watch found 36 accusations of molestation and rape of residents by caretakers in the last four years at California's state institutions for the developmentally disabled. However, the Office of Protective Services, the police force at California's five developmental centers, failed to order a single rape exam during three of the four years.
At most other police departments, use of a “rape kit” by trained forensic examiners for alleged sexual assault victims is considered routine in order to collect evidence for prosecution. Without physical evidence, it can be nearly impossible to solve sex crimes. This is especially true when the victims are people with severe communication and/or intellectual disabilities, who may have difficulty providing testimony or identifying perpetrators.
Pavley is working with Disability Rights California, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA), The Arc of California and United Cerebral Palsy to introduce the legislation.