OLYMPIA — An omnibus bill to promote a victim-centered, trauma-informed response to sexual assault in Washington’s legal system was heard in the Senate Law & Justice Committee on Monday.

SB 5937 streamlines eligibility for crime victim benefits, covers some of victims’ costs for forensic examinations, expands protections to more victims, improves state and local teams to respond to sexual assault, and ensures that children age 13 and up can consent to forensic sexual examinations and examinations for sexually transmitted infections — consistent with current law on the age of medical consent.

“SB 5937 draws on the recommendations of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Best Practices Advisory Group as well as the experiences of survivors and the knowledge of experts in the field,” said Dhingra, chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee. “This legislation represents a transformation of the legal response to sexual assault in our state, so that we can build a truly victim-centered, trauma-informed system.”

One survivor wrote of the bill: “I am pleasantly surprised how comprehensive it is, from improving access to victim compensation fund to participating in person or remotely to criminal trials, removing statute of limitation for first responder rapes to recognizing use of rape drug as force, among other things. Of many ‘victim rights’ legislations to reform criminal legal system that I have seen, this is the most thorough and trauma informed.”

Archived video of the hearing can be viewed here on TVW.