Assemblymember Pedro Nava, flanked by Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Commander Darin Fotheringham and Senior Deputy District Attorney Joyce Dudley, announced Friday he was introducing a legislative package of three bills which would further protect victims of sexually violent predators and toughen enforcement of these laws. “These will work together to increase community safety,” Nava said.
Assembly bill 2408 would keep juvenile’s sex crimes on their record even past the age of 18. The second, Assembly bill 2409, would unseal juvenile records of past sex crimes when assessing an individuals eligibility in a commitment program. Studies show, Nava said, that sexually violent tendencies and behavior begin to form as a juvenile.
Assembly bill 2410 would protect victim witnesses who testify in civil sexual violent predator proceedings. As it stands now, there is no protection to keep the names and addresses of victims in sex offenses confidential in civil proceedings, as they are in criminal proceedings. Nava is hopeful that the legislation will encourage victims to come forward and testify against their predators.
Santa Barbara County came into the spotlight recently as one of only six counties in the state to have a sexually violent predator released into it since Jessica’s Law went into effect two years ago. Kenneth Rasmuson, a 47-year-old convicted sex offender, was released to the county earlier this year, but was having a hard time finding housing. He wears a GPS device and is required to live outside of 2,000 feet of public schools or other places where children gather, but still has been rejected by citizens.
Both the Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office were in support of the three bills. The Sheriff’s Department supports anything that can be used to ensure proper prosecution of criminals and long term public safety, Fotheringham said. “The District Attorney’s office supports these bills because it allows judges and juries to make informed decisions and it allows victims to feel their names will remain anonymous,” Dudley said.