Stern’s public safety bills unanimously pass initial committee hearings

Henry Stern, Feel The Stern,
State Sen. Henry Stern. Courtesy photo

Seeking justice for victims of human-trafficking and sexual abuse, two of Senator Henry Stern’s bills moved forward from committee hearings on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 756 was approved unanimously by the Senate Public Safety Committee, which aims to help children under 14 years old who suffered from sexual abuse by making their predators cover the cost of their mental health services to treat their trauma.

“I am authoring this measure today to help address the serious mental health needs of children who have been victims of sexual violence and are being denied justice under our current system,” Stern said at the hearing.

This bill is co-sponsored by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office (LADA) and the Crime Victims Actions Alliance, Stern’s office said.

Jonathan Hatami, Deputy District Attorney with the Complex Child Abuse Section of LADA, testified at the committee meeting and explained that the bill would make perpetrators directly responsible for paying to provide victims with emotional support and therapy.

“The children we are talking about have suffered some of the most heinous crimes imaginable,” Hatami said at the hearing. “These are victims who go on to suffer from reoccurring nightmares, difficulty sleeping, an inability to maintain a job or complete their education. It takes them a lifetime to recover and we, as a society, should do everything we can to help them.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed Senate Bill 225 unanimously Tuesday, propelling Stern’s effort to aid victims of human trafficking.

Under the bill, California’s human trafficking hotline will allow text messaging to 233-733, or ‘Be Free,’ in addition to calling. The bill will also require specified businesses to display this text number.

“SB 225 is an important step to modernize our statewide anti-human trafficking hotlines so that more individuals can join in the fight against this modern-day form of slavery,” Stern said at the hearing.

The National Council of Jewish Women in California, the California National Organization for Women, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, the Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association and Hadassah, a women’s Zionist organization, all support the bill, Stern’s office said.

Both bills will go to the Senate Appropriations Committee next. A date for the hearings have not yet been determined, according to Stern’s office.

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