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October 16
1853 - Sarah Gifford, community leader and wife of Newhall's first railroad station agent, born in England [story]


Fran Pavley

Sen. Fran Pavley

Sens. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, and Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, introduced SB 651 on Friday, a bill designed to address sexual assaults against patients at developmental centers and state hospitals. It would ensure that abuse victims within state institutions receive timely forensic medical examinations. The legislation is sponsored by Disability Rights California.

“We must put an end to the repeated sexual abuse of men and women with developmental disabilities,” said Pavley, whose 27th Senate District includes about half of the Santa Clarita Valley. “Residents of large institutions, like developmental centers and state hospitals, are particularly vulnerable because of their isolation and reliance on staff.”

SB 651 has two main provisions. First, it would require investigators at developmental centers and state hospitals to send suspected victims of sexual assault to an outside facility to receive a rape exam, as is currently required at state correctional institutions. Second, it would make failure to report a sexual assault or violent crime within a facility a Class B Violation. Under SB 651, the facility would be subject to fines of up to $2,000 per violation. Last year, Leno successfully carried SB 1522, which requires a developmental center to immediately report a death, sexual assault or other violent crime immediately to law enforcement, but the bill did not include the penalty.

In addition to Disability Rights, Pavley and Leno are working with the California District Attorneys Association, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA), The Arc of California and United Cerebral Palsy on this important legislation.

Sen. Mark Leno

Sen. Mark Leno

Leslie Morrison, Directing Attorney of Disability Rights California’s Investigations Unit, cited studies finding that people with severe mental illness are 23 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than the general population, and that four out of five psychiatric patients have been physically or sexually assaulted at some point.

“Few victims are sent for forensic sexual assault examinations at an examination facility off grounds,” Morrison said. “Of the 12 most recent allegations of sexual assault in which a staff member was the reported perpetrator, only one state psychiatric facility sent the alleged victim for an independent outside examination.”

In recent months, an investigative reporting team at California Watch has published a series of stories on sexual and physical abuse at developmental centers. In November, they reported that there have been 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.

Physical evidence is particularly important in cases involving the developmentally disabled, because they often lack the ability to give testimony to courts and investigators.

SB 651 would apply to the following institutions.

 

Five developmental centers:

Sonoma Developmental Center

Lanterman Developmental Center

Porterville Developmental Center

Fairview Developmental Center

Canyon Springs Developmental Center

 

Five state hospitals:

Atascadero State Hospital

Coalinga State Hospital

Metropolitan State Hospital

Napa State Hospital

Patton State Hospital

 

Three Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation medical facilities that have mental health units that are run by the Department of State Hospitals:

Salinas Valley Psychiatric Program

Vacaville Psychiatric Program

Stockton Psychiatric Program

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LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Monday, Oct 16, 2017
Next Step: Water Agency Officials to Share Merger Details
Leaders from the CLWA and NCWC will meet in October, November and December to discuss their merger, which creates the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency as of Jan. 1.
Monday, Oct 16, 2017
Gov. Brown Signs Legislation for Criminal Justice Reforms
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a series of bills on Sunday calling for criminal justice reforms, including reduction of penalties for some gun and drug crimes and changes to the Megan's Law sex offender registry.
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Brown Signs Wilk Bill Merging SCV Water Agencies
With the stroke of his pen Sunday, Gov. Jerry Brown eliminated the Castaic Lake Water Agency and Newhall County Water District and replaced them with a new water agency for the Santa Clarita Valley.
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