Sexual Assault Victims’ Right to Information Act Passes in Oklahoma House
Published: March 10th, 2021
OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation that protects the rights of sexual assault victims and facilitates faster trauma care passed the House on Monday (March 8) with a vote of 94 to 0.
Sexual Assault Victims’ Right to Information Act (House Bill 2546), authored by Rep. Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, expands protections to victims of sexual assault regardless of participation in a criminal investigation of their assault. The act also allows for an advocate to be made available during a sexual assault examination.
“I have dedicated many years to listening to survivors of sexual assault,” Munson said. “I’ve learned that equipping and empowering survivors with access to information and a victims’ advocate are impactful ways to help them navigate a vulnerable time.”
Munson, elected to the state House in a 2015 special election, was the first member of her party in five decades to capture the near-north Oklahoma (District 85) seat she holds.
A 2019 OSBI (Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation) report showed that while most crime is down, rape and domestic abuse are on the rise in Oklahoma.
“Sexual assault is a horrific trauma that should never be faced alone,” Munson said. “Now survivors are one step closer to ensuring they never have to.”
In a February House staff press release focused on the legislation – when it passed in the House Judiciary Committee with 9-0 support – Munson reflected, “The government has no role in whether or not a sexual assault victim should come forward and tell their story,” Munson said. “However, we do have a responsibility to protect these individuals and ensure they have the opportunity to do so at a later date and in a meaningful way.”
The legislation would, if enacted, put into place measures that increase the likelihood that a sexual assault victim knows their rights during an investigation.
“We need to ensure that at a person’s most vulnerable moment they know there are people there to help,” Munson said. “Victims need to know there are experts, people who regularly deal with the horrific fallout of sexual trauma, that are ready to jump in and help in any way they can. Sometimes, when we are most vulnerable, knowing there is a helping hand can make all the difference.”
As a result of this week’s actions, H.B. 2546 is eligible to be heard in the Senate.
Note: Publisher Pat McGuigan contributed to this report.