Courtesy of Simotas’ office
Assemblywoman wants the governor to sign her Sexual Assault Victim Bill of Rights legislation after seven area hospitals billed victims for their rape kits.
By Bill Parry

State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign her Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights legislation after the state’s attorney general reached settlements with seven New York City hospitals that illegally billed at least 200 rape survivors for forensic rape examinations.

Under the terms of the agreements, the hospitals will implement written policies to ensure that sexual assault survivors do not receive bills for their rape examinations, provide full restitution to any improperly billed sexual assault survivors, and pay costs.

“I am shocked and horrified by the illegal practice of billing rape survivors for forensic rape examinations, that Attorney General Barbara Underwood exposed last week,” Simotas said. “One of the most disturbing aspects of this is that a new law might have prevented this travesty but it has been waiting for the governor’s signature for six months, after passing the Assembly and Senate in June 2018. Until the governor signs it, the law will not take effect.”

“This languishing legislation, that I sponsored in the Assembly, would give sexual assault survivors a copy of a Bill of Rights and it would clearly tell them that the forensic examination is free, as well as HIV post-exposure therapies and emergency contraception,” Simotas added.

The Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights would also disclose: the right to consult with a representative from a rape crisis of victim assistance organization before a physical exam or law enforcement interview and the right to have a representative accompany them through the exam and interview.

The right contact information for the law enforcement entity with jurisdiction over the crime and the right to receive updates on the status of their rape kit and whether a DA profile was developed and a DNA match identified.

A prosecutorial agency would be able to delay release of this information prior to the arrest of a suspect.

“No rape survivor should be re-traumatized by bureaucracy, ill-treatment, thoughtlessness or lack of transparency in the health care or criminal justice systems,” Simotas said. “In 2016 the governor signed legislation that I sponsored to mandate the speedy processing of rape kits and end the backlog.”

“I urge to governor to now sign the Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights so that our state continues to protect and advance the rights of sexual assault survivors,” she added.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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