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Paulin's Bill to Amend Definition of Aggravated Sexual Assault Signed into Law

Contact: Allison Esposito (914) 723-1115

Sometimes it all comes down to a simple definition of a word.

Governor Paterson has signed Assemblywoman Paulin’s bill (A8781) that amends the penal law with regard to the laws governing aggravated sexual abuse and the definition of aggravated sexual contact.

Currently there is an inconsistency between the aggravated sexual abuse laws and the criminal sexual act laws that has caused victims of sexual assault, often children, to be forced to testify in court as to the depth of the penetration during their assault. The use of one specific word rather than another has resulted in inconsistent judicial outcomes, as rectum and anus have two technically different definitions.

The criminal sexual act laws have already been amended to change the word “rectum” to the word “anus.” The aggravated sexual abuse laws were never similarly amended, until now.

“No one—especially children-- should have to testify in court as to the depth of penetration—it’s traumatizing,” said Assemblywoman Paulin, “When I was made aware of this, I knew we had to draft legislation to fix this law.”

The New York State District Attorney Association's Family Violence and Legislative Subcommittee brought this problem to Assemblywoman Paulin's attention.

“We are very thankful to Assemblywoman Paulin that she took it upon herself to spearhead getting it fixed,” said Lisa Friel, Chief of the Sex Crimes unit in New York County’s District Attorney’s office. “Without all of her hard work, this much needed amendment to our sexual assault laws would never have happened.”

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