By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) today voted for HR 5578, the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act of 2016. The bill passed the House with widespread bipartisan support.
This legislation ensures sexual assault survivors in federal criminal cases have the right to a sexual assault evidence collection kit, written notification before destruction of the kit, the ability to request preservation of the kit beyond the statute of limitations, and that they are informed of results from a forensic examination. Further, this legislation allows the Attorney General to make grants through the Crime Victims Fund to states to promote rights and policies for sexual assault survivors.
In addition, H.R. 5578 also requires the Attorney General and the Department of Health and Human Services to convene a joint working group on best practices regarding the care and treatment of sexual assault survivors and the preservation of forensic evidence.
According to figures from a 2011 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most recent available, one in five women in America are victims of sexual assault. More than 40% of these victims are children, reporting they were first raped before they were 18 years old.
Rep. Cook said, “Sexual assault survivors shouldn’t be faced with a patchwork of bureaucratic impediments to justice. These sexual assault collection kits have been instrumental in providing evidence to convict sexual predators and rapists, including many cold cases. We need to do everything we can to ensure that these criminals are brought to justice, and this legislation is a strong step towards achieving that goal.”
A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.