Senator Linda Stewart’s bill on Sexual Battery upon a Mentally Incapacitated Person clears first committee

Tallahassee, FL –SB 868, sponsored by Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando), passed favorably by unanimous vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Representative Emily Slosberg-King (D–Boca Raton) has filed HB 525 in the House of Representatives. The legislation has two (2) more stops in the Senate and three (3) stops in the House before going to the full Chambers for passage into law.

The identical bills clarify what constitutes sexual battery upon a person impaired by drugs or alcohol. By this legislation, an offender commits the aggravated crime if the offender knows, or has reason to believe, the victim is mentally incapacitated due to the ingestion of drugs and or alcohol. The current version of the law only criminalizes such conduct if the offender provided the intoxicating alcohol or drugs, or knew another did, without the knowledge or consent of the victim.

The Florida Chapter of the National Organization for Women and the League of Women Voters supported the Bill before the Senate Committee. Katrina Duesterhaus, a victim of sexual assault while mentally incapacitated by the voluntary use of alcohol, testified, “We have a dangerous loophole in our sexual battery statute. If someone gets drunk, are they fair game to be shot, stabbed or robbed?”

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence agency, more than one (1) in six (6) women report being sexually assaulted while incapacitated from alcohol and drugs in their freshman year of college. “I see too many students who have had their lives permanently changed by the trauma of rape and sexual assault,” recounted Sarah Smith Paez, Director of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking Prevention at Stetson University.

Senator Stewart argued, “The offenders who take advantage of someone’s incapacitation, whether they caused it or not, should be held accountable.”

Floridians don’t care how a woman gets inebriated- she still deserves respect.

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