A bill created in response to a Saratoga teen’s sexual assault and suicide was amended Tuesday to remove mandatory sentencing for juvenile sex offenders.
The modified “Audrie’s Law,” named after 15-year-old Audrie Pott and introduced by Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) as SB 838, received unanimous support from the Assembly Public Safety Committee in a 4-0 vote.
But the vote, postponed from last week, came only after Beall agreed to nix the part that would have required mandatory two-year-minimum sentencing for youth who sexually assault an unconscious, intoxicated or mentally disabled victim.
Audrie’s mother, Sheila Pott, said she was outraged by the compromise.
“I would like to state for the record that we are terribly disappointed that a majority of this committee is not in support of a mandatory minimum sentence for juvenile sex offenders,” she said. “We have a sexual assault problem in this country. We have a set of laws that tie the hands of our prosecutors.”
The amended legislation instead prescribes treatment for convicted youth sex offenders, a change lobbied for by juvenile justice advocates.
Despite the change, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said he’s pleased to see the bill pass through the public safety committee.
“Audrie’s Law modernizes the consequences for those who sexually assault intoxicated, incapacitated and handicapped victims,” said Rosen, who has been a staunch supporter of the bill. “I am hopeful that the entire California Legislature will keep the 15-year-old girl’s memory close in their hearts and her legacy in mind when [the bill] is presented for a final vote.”