MTPR

Governor Signs Bills Updating Sexual Assault Laws

Jul 10, 2017

Attorney General Tim Fox joined Governor Steve Bullock in Missoula today for a ceremony to sign six bills updating Montana’s sexual assault laws.

They posed with Missoula Democratic Senator Diane Sands, who carried two of the bills, the most prominent of which removes force from the definition of sexual assault.

"That is huge," Sands told a crowd gathered in Missoula's City Council chambers. "It will make it easier for prosecutors to both investigate and prosecute these crimes. It’ll be easier for juries to understand what really goes on in a sexual assault."

Sands said prosecutors have come to her crying because under the old laws, written in the 1970s, people who committed sexual assaults without the threat or use of force could not be convicted.

Another bill signed today helps victims who have a child as the result of a sexual assault sever the parental rights of their assailants. Another extends the statute of limitations to give victims more time to press charges.

Sands praised several organizations for helping lawmakers draft and pass the new bills, including the Montana Coalition for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, the Missoula Sexual Assault Team, the Montana County Attorney's Association and the Associated Students of the University of Montana and students from other Montana college campuses.