Law enforcement

Campus Sexual Assault Legislation Moving Through Va. House

Legislation to assure that sexual assaults on college campuses are reported to police and prosecutors is advancing in the House of Delegates.

A measure is headed Thursday to the full House Court of Justice Committee for a vote after revisions in a subcommittee meeting a day earlier. The bill would require college faculty and administrators who become aware of an act of sexual violence to report it to the school's coordinator of compliance with the federal Equal Opportunity in Education Act, commonly known as Title IX.

If it is found necessary to protect the health or safety of the victim or the campus community, the information would have to be reported to a local law enforcement agency. Failure to report the information would be punishable by a $500 civil penalty.

Physicians, counselors, clergy and attorneys who obtain the information through privileged communications would be exempted from the requirement.

The measure is sponsored by Del. Rob Bell, a Republican from Albemarle County. It's one of many prompted by a series of alleged sex crimes at state colleges and universities in recent months.

A more sweeping measure moving through the state Senate would require any university employee who becomes aware of an alleged assault to report it to law enforcement within 24 hours. Failure to do so would be a misdemeanor.

Some students and victim advocates have expressed concerns that mandatory reporting would discourage victims from coming forward.

Also Wednesday, the House Courts of Justice Committee approved a bill from Del. Jimmie Massie, a Henrico County Republican, that would require campus or local police to notify the local commonwealth's attorney within 48 hours of beginning a felony sexual assault investigation.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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