Protection file

Sexual Assault, Sex Trafficking Identity Protection Considered – Unicameral Update

The identity of a person alleging sexual assault or sex trafficking would remain confidential for the period immediately following a reported crime under a bill heard by the Judiciary Committee on February 3.

Senator Patty Pansing Brooks

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The senator. Patty Pansing Brooks

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Senator Patty Pansing Brooks

LB1246, sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, would require attorneys and criminal justice agencies to withhold any personal identifying information of an alleged victim from the public record until charges are filed. Under the bill, relevant information could be shared between criminal justice agencies, attorneys and victim advocacy agencies in certain circumstances.

Pansing Brooks said the most common reason an individual does not report sexual violence crimes is fear of retaliation. The state should create an environment where victims feel safe to come forward, she said, to protect themselves and others.

“When the identifying information of victims in these cases is publicly available, it can leave them vulnerable to intimidation, threats or harm,” Pansing Brooks said. “There have been cases in Nebraska where trafficking victims have been physically harmed or received death threats from their traffickers after reporting to law enforcement.”

Under LB1246, an individual’s identity may be disclosed if they waive their right to confidentiality or die as a result of its abuse or if charges are brought against an alleged perpetrator. The identity of an alleged victim could also be disclosed as part of a child abduction alert system.

In support of the bill was Molly Nocita, an advocate for sex trafficking survivors. She said LB1246 would give an individual time to heal, seek justice, and move on.

“In violent situations, the most dangerous moment for a victim is when someone tries to leave,” Nocita said. “If the abuser sees the victim’s name in a public report, what can protect him from further abuse? »

Capt. Tracy Scherer testified in support of the bill on behalf of the Omaha Police Department. People who report an assault may be contacted by local media, Scherer said, which may impact their ability to participate in an investigation and may alert a suspect that an investigation is underway.

Glen Parks, coordinator of the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force, also spoke in favor of the bill on behalf of the Nebraska attorney general’s office. LB1246 would help alleviate the fear of retaliatory violence that keeps victims from coming forward, he said.

Jo Giles, executive director of the Women’s Fund of Omaha and board member of the Nebraska Journalism Trust, testified on behalf of LB1246. She said the bill could lessen the embarrassment of someone making an allegation by limiting contact with unwanted parts – like the media – when they are most vulnerable after filing a report.

“Although it is the best practice [for journalists] not to publish or report the names of minors, there may be inconsistencies with adults,” Giles said. “LB1246 would ensure victim privacy without compromising journalistic efforts.”

No one testified against the bill and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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