Policy & Law
WI State Legislation
Summary of New Sexual Assault-Related Laws Created During 2011-2012 Legislative Session
Act 2 (January 2011 Special Session Senate Bill 1)
Known as the “Tort Reform Bill”, this legislation included a number of changes related to the right to sue for economic damages and other lawsuit and trial-related issues. Specifically of interest to WCASA, the bill heightened the standard controlling who may testify at trial as expert witnesses. Concerns were raised that this change could limit the testimony of sexual assault nurse examiners and sexual assault advocates, making prosecutions of sexual assault cases even more difficult. In response to these concerns the bill was amended to match current federal rules – also known as the Daubert standard. This will hopefully bring in existing precedent from other jurisdictions which has allowed such testimony even under the heightened standard. However the full impact of this change will probably not be known for some time.
SS SB 1 full bill history: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/proposals/jr1/sb1
Act 16 (Senate Bill 23)
This law preempts local governments from enacting ordinances which require employers to provide employees with paid leave to deal with family, medical, or health issues – thereby stating the current state law which provides for unpaid leave in limited situations will apply statewide. Specifically the Act states that local governments may not enact ordinances that allow leave to be taken to seek medical attention related to sexual assault, obtain services related to that assault, to relocate because of an assault, or to be involved in court proceedings related to sexual abuse. WCASA opposed this legislation.
SB 23 full bill history: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/proposals/sb23
Act 81 (Senate Bill 42)
This new law expands the list of those in our schools who are required to report when they observe signs of abuse or neglect of students to include all school employees. WCASA supported this legislation.
SB 42 full bill history: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/proposals/sb42
Act 82 (Assembly Bill 102)
This law creates a penalty enhancer of not more than 5 years when a child care provider is convicted of sexual assault of a child.
AB 102 full bill history: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/proposals/ab102
Act 282 (Assembly Bill 552)
Under this new law, first-degree sexual assault is added to the exceptions to the 6-year felony statute of limitations, allowing prosecutions of this offense to be brought at any time. Prior to this, the list of crimes with no statute of limitations included first-degree intentional homicide, second-degree intentional homicide, and first-degree sexual assault of a child. The bill also adds attempted first-degree sexual assault of an adult victim, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, attempted second-degree intentional homicide to the list of crimes exempted from the statute of limitations. WCASA supported this legislation.
AB 552 full bill history: http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/related/enrolled/ab552
Act 216 (Senate Bill 237)
This law repeals portions and amends others of what was known as the “Healthy Youth Act”, passed in the previous legislative session. Among other provisions, it requires that school districts offering a human growth and development curriculum emphasize abstinence as the preferred method of avoiding pregnancy. For more details on the bills many provisions see the Legislative Council memo available on the full bill history web page below. WCASA opposed this legislation.
SB 237 full bill history: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/proposals/sb237
Act 284 (Assembly Bill 100)
Under this law, if evidence to be used at trial is a recording of a child engaging in sexually explicit conduct, the defense may inspect the recording only in a location maintained by the court or a law enforcement agency, one of which must retain possession, custody, and control of the recording and must provide the defense opportunity to examine, inspect, and view the recording. The defense may receive a copy for limited purposes only if a court finds that the defense has not had opportunity to examine, inspect, or view the recording. Before this legislation, the defense could inspect, copy or photograph any evidence the prosecution intended to use. The law also makes any attempt to cause a person under the age of 18 to view or listen to sexually explicit conduct a felony if it is done for sexual arousal or gratification of the actor or for the humiliation or degrading of the person under the age of 18.
AB 100 full bill history: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/proposals/ab100
Act 271 (Senate Bill 536)
This law makes a number of changes related to the state’s child trafficking laws. Among its provisions, it allows a prosecution for trafficking of a child to be commenced any time prior to the victim reaching the age of 45 years – prior law allowed a prosecution until the victim reached the age of 24. This law also extends evidentiary rape shield protections to victims of the following crimes: child enticement, soliciting a child for prostitution, and sexual intercourse with a child age 16 or older. Additionally, the law allows a court to terminate a person’s parental rights if the parent committed child trafficking of any child. The law also makes knowingly accessing pornographic material of a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct a felony. WCASA supported this legislation.
SB 536 full bill history: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/proposals/sb536
Act 269 (Assembly Bill 263)
This law allows law enforcement agencies to recoup the costs associated with responding to misleading information or physical evidence placed with the intent to mislead the officer, when the person responsible is convicted of obstruction. The original bill was amended to include some important exceptions, including: if the defendant is charged with obstruction because she/he recanted a report of sexual assault, if a victim of sexual assault was charged with obstruction because she/he omitted information or provided false information during the investigation, or if the defendant was charged solely because their report did not lead to criminal charges or a conviction against another person.
AB 263 full bill history: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/proposals/ab263
Act 238 (Senate Bill 394)
This new law established a pay progression plan for assistant district attorneys. The plan consists of 17 hourly salary steps and is to be based on merit. WCASA supported this legislation.
SB 394 full bill history: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/proposals/sb394
Act 285 (Senate Bill 399)
This law makes hearsay evidence admissible at a preliminary examination. The court may rely on hearsay evidence to determine whether there is probable cause that the defendant committed a crime. This new law may have a significant positive impact for sexual assault survivors by allowing the case to proceed without the survivor having to testify at a preliminary hearing. WCASA supported this legislation.
SB 399 full bill history: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/proposals/sb399
Act 283 (Assembly Bill 232)
This new law confers upon victims the right to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect for privacy by public officials, employees, or agencies. The bill also gives victims the ability to seek relief on their own when these rights have been violated. WCASA supported this legislation.
AB 232 full bill history: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/proposals/ab232
Act 272 (Assembly Bill 209)
This new law relates to the penalties for the crimes of sexual exploitation of a child and possession of child pornography. This law allows the court to depart from the mandatory minimum sentence if the court determines the following: the best interests of the community will be served, the public will not be harmed, and the offender is no more than 4 years older than the victim.
AB 209 full bill history: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/proposals/ab209