SAN DIEGO–District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is scheduled to testify in front of the California State Senate’s Judiciary Committee on Tuesday in support of legislation sponsored by her office and introduced by Assembly member Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) that would prevent victims from being forced to pay spousal support to ex-husbands or wives who are convicted of violent sexual crime against them.
Assembly Bill 1522 was inspired by the case of a San Diego-area woman, Crystal Harris, who was ordered to pay her former husband monthly spousal support during the pendency of his criminal trial. After he was convicted and sentenced to six years, Harris was ordered to pay a portion of his legal fees.
“The District Attorney’s Office is working hard to change the law that allowed Crystal Harris to be re-victimized and tomorrow’s testimony is the latest step in that legislative process. We need to make sure this can’t happen again to victims of violent crime,” says Dumanis.
Current law already prevents spousal support in cases of the attempted murder or soliciting the murder of a spouse. AB 1522 would add violent sex felonies to the list of convictions that disqualify a person from obtaining financial benefits from their ex-spouse in a divorce proceeding. AB 1522 passed the California Assembly by a unanimous vote in April; Senate Judiciary Committee members will be considering amendments to the bill on Tuesday.
Harris, whose case brought national attention to the loophole in the law, is also scheduled to testify in support of the bill. “I never want to think of another rape victim having to go through the re-victimization process that I went through. I urge all people devoted to justice to make sure this bill passes.”
The bill has garnered strong bi-partisan legislative support, with Senators Joel Anderson (R-El Cajon), Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) and Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad) and Assemblymembers Marty Block (D- Lemon Grove), Ben Hueso (D-Chula Vista), Martin Garrick (R-Carlsbad), Kevin Jeffries (R- Murrieta), Brian Jones (R-Santee), Jeff Miller (R-Orange), and Holly Mitchell (D-Culver City) signing on as co-authors before the bill was formally introduced.
The Judiciary Committee hearing begins Tuesday morning.