TRENTON, N.J. – By a unanimous vote in the Assembly today, Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi’s bill shedding light on the number and nature of sexual assault cases reported in the state was advanced to the governor’s desk.
Schepisi, who survived a sexual assault in her teens, said her bill will help protect women by providing lawmakers with a better understanding of how sexual assault cases in New Jersey are being handled.
The bill (A4888/S3074) requires the attorney general to work with county prosecutors to gather information on cases of sexual assault and criminal sexual contact and then summarize the findings in an annual report.
“To correct the shortcomings of our criminal justice system, we need more transparency to understand exactly where we are failing victims of sexual assault. We don’t have accurate statistics for sexual assault cases in New Jersey, because we lack the information that this report will provide,” said Schepisi (R-Bergen). “I have no doubts that the report will inform reforms that will better serve women going forward.”
The report would include the overall number of sexual assault cases in the state, complaints filed by victims, cases filed to county prosecutors, cases that were not prosecuted and why, indictments, cases referred to the municipal court, plea agreements and their terms, and the amount of cases that went to trial and the ultimate outcome. It cannot contain any personal or identifying information about victims.
The legislation is part of a package of bills, co-sponsored by Schepisi, that arose in the wake of the state’s handling of the Katie Brennan allegations and a Star-Ledger/NJ Advance Media report in which 20 women said that they had been subjected to groping, harassment and sexual assault while serving in state politics.
The Senate passed a companion bill in December.