Bill passed to protect sexual assault victims

The+Appalachian+Online

The Appalachian Online

The Appalachian

A bill intended to protect sexual assault victims by allowing them to file for permanent protective orders was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly last week.

North Carolina Bill 60 states that a victim of a sexual offense would be able to obtain a protective order lasting the lifetime of the perpetrator, even if the order is not requested at the time of sentencing. The bill goes into effect October 1, 2015.

This bill will matter for Appalachian State University students, faculty and staff, as it will intend to provide safety and protection to victims of sexual assault.

Student Conduct Director Judy Haas said Appalachian already provides a no-contact directive in some cases. Similar to Bill 60, this directive provides safety for the victim of sexual assault or anyone who feels as if someone has or will promote conflict. The directive is used not only for sexual assault, but for conflicts with friends, roommates and others.

“We have to look at the severity of the situation and how each individual responds to the no-contact directive,” Haas said.

In addition to the directive, Haas said student conduct may be seeing the bill in their offices once it has gone into effect in 2015.

“We might be seeing this bill in the next couple of years with incoming freshman,” Haas said.

Conduct will take those who have the bill under serious watch due to the severity of the bill’s protective orders. Haas said Student Conduct would have a responsibility to keep up the bill if an Appalachian student has it documented by the court.

ASU Police Chief Gunther Doerr said if passed into law, this would only apply after an offender was convicted in a criminal court of a sex offense under state law. 

Then, the victim must file a request through the courts for a permanent no-contact order and only after a judge approves finding reasonable grounds exist for the victim to fear future contact with the convicted offender, would an order be granted, Doerr said.

ASU Police would not be directly involved with the process of the law, but Doerr said they are thrilled to see the bill passed, as it could bring justice to victims of sexual violence.

Appalachian has had ten on-campus sexual assaults reported since the beginning of the 2014-15 academic year, with one being determined to be a false report at a later date.

Story: Mary Wood, Intern News Reporter