N.Y. Legislators, RAINN and New York City Anti-Sexual Violence Organizations Call for Admission of Evidence of Prior “Bad Acts” In Sex Crime Cases

N.Y. Legislators, RAINN and New York City Anti-Sexual Violence Organizations Call for Admission of Evidence of Prior “Bad Acts” In Sex Crime Cases

A 4992 would clear the way to establish patterns of behavior in prosecution of sex crimes in New York

New York, N.Y. - Today, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris, RAINN, and a coalition of New York City-based anti-sexual violence organizations are calling on New York lawmakers to support a bill that would stop the kind of ruling reversal that undermined the state’s 2020 case against Harvey Weinstein and subjected survivors who testified to renewed trauma.

The bill, A 4992, would ensure that survivors do not stand alone when pursuing justice for sexual assault. It allows for the admission of evidence that the defendant committed other sexual assaults in criminal proceedings where the defendant is accused of a sexual assault.

“What happened with the Weinstein reversal was appalling—and this bill helps make sure this can never happen again to another survivor who testifies in New York,” said Stefan Turkheimer, RAINN vice president of public policy. “We are stronger together. A 4992 will give people an opportunity to testify and establish patterns of behavior, something that is especially important in situations where an offender is trying to isolate a victim and their voice. And if there is a chorus of voices, juries need to hear them.”

“New York State law needs to support survivors of sexual assault and their ability to seek justice,” said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. “Sex offense trials often rest on the testimony of the survivor, whose credibility is then attacked. That’s why patterns of behavior must be allowed as evidence. Sexual assault survivors have already gone through enough trauma. Now that the Weinstein case has been overturned, it’s more important than ever to pass this bill.”

”Victims of sexual assault deserve the ability to share their experiences when their abuser is charged with a new sexual offense,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris, the Senate sponsor for A 4992. “This proposal would help brave survivors tell their stories, and bring New York in alignment with federal rules of evidence.”

RAINN President and Founder Scott Berkowitz said, “There are a lot of survivors counting on us to fix the problem the court created. Let this bill send a message of hope to survivors currently testifying against perpetrators and anyone considering coming forward. Your voice will be heard, and it will help achieve justice.”

ABOUT A 4992

A 4992 would ensure that survivors do not stand alone when pursuing justice for sexual assault. By amending the rules of evidence to allow evidence of a defendant's prior sexual offenses to be admissible in a sexual offense proceeding, this bill ensures that patterns of criminal behavior are accounted for in court. New York juries deserve to have the full breadth of relevant evidence available in these cases.

Perpetrators of rape are often serial criminals. According to the American Psychological Association, approximately one-third of unique defendants in a sample of offenders identified by DNA through sexual assault kits had two or more sexual assaults linked via DNA. This is higher than the 8-15% that are typically documented.

Current New York law does not support prosecutors bringing in witnesses to explain the context and environment in which the rape occurred. A 4992 would allow courts to admit evidence, in sexual assault cases, of a defendant's prior sexual assaults, if they were relevant to show all the circumstances surrounding the defendant's behavior.

It is time that New York shows survivors that they are believed and allows all their voices to be heard when seeking justice.

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About RAINN

RAINN, the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization, created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, help organizations improve their sexual assault prevention and response programs, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, free, confidential help is available 24/7 by calling 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visiting hotline.RAINN.org.

Contact:
Erinn Robinson
Director of Media Relations

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