Victim-centered bills now public laws
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero today signed into law three measures that enhance protection for sexual assault victims.
The package of bills is part of the legislature’s latest efforts to combat the staggering number of sexual assault cases on Guam, said Sen. Mary Torres, author of the three bills. “Over time, as society grows to further understand the nature of domestic violence and criminal sexual conduct, and the dynamics between aggressors and victims involved in these crimes, it is imperative that the body of governing law likewise evolves,” Leon Guerrero said.
“Bills. 242-36, 243-36, and 244-36 are three such efforts, intended to provide victims of domestic and sexual violence access to greater legal protections and rights," she added.
Bill 242-36, now Public Law 36-100, ensures that abusers are unable to control victims through their phone plans by enabling victims of family violence to separate from a shared phone plan without fees or penalty if they submit a police report, an order of protection, or a declaration made under penalty of perjury from a licensed healthcare provider, social worker, employee of the court, or victim advocate. Bill 243-36, now Public Law 36-101, closes the “consent loophole” by expanding the definition of mental incapacitation in criminal sexual conduct statute to include any person under the influence of a substance that renders them incapable of consenting.
Previously, victims were not considered mentally incapacitated if they voluntarily consumed an intoxicating substance prior to being assaulted or raped. The law also defines consent for the first time in Guam law as words or overt actions indicating a freely given present agreement.
Finally, Bill 244-36 (LS), now Public Law 36-102, adopts a standard bill of rights for sexual assault victims on Guam, including the right to advocacy, the right to informative rape kit procedures and notification, and the retention of all rights regardless of whether assault is reported to law enforcement.
“Should the worst happen, these measures ensure survivors have a clear path to seek justice and hold their abusers accountable,” Torres said.
“There is more work needed to combat sexual assault and family violence, which is why I have recently introduced another trio of bills focused on civil orders of protections for victims of abuse—and I look forward to them being heard soon," she added.