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State Lawmaker To Propose Bill Expanding Options For Sexual Assault Prosecutions

Rep. Angela Romero
Austen Diamond
Utah Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, proposing a bill in 2019.

Utah Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, is pursuing a bill that would give survivors of sexual assault more opportunities to prosecute their perpetrators.

The state Legislature passed a bill earlier this year that changed the legal definition of consent to allow for someone to withdraw their agreement to a sexual act after previously consenting to it. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and with 70% approval in the House.

“We've seen cases like this where a person was involved in a consensual sexual encounter, but then they didn't give consent the second time,” Romero said. “These are very complicated cases and we really felt like we had to create a new offense for it.”

Under Romero’s new bill, if a person commits an act after consent is withdrawn that would be a third degree felony — which is a lesser offense than other forms of sexual assault.

“Sexual assault is hard to prove,” she said. “We wanted to give another option for individuals who have been sexually assaulted to be able to hold their perpetrators accountable.”

While Romero said it’s important to help survivors seek justice through the courts, she would also like to bring consent education into schools.

“We can talk about this after it's happened, after somebody has been violated, or we can provide opportunities for our youth to learn about what are healthy relationships,” she said.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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