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State Rep. fights to protect child sexual assault survivors

4/3/2019, noon
Children who are victims of sexual assault will be spared more hardship under a bill proposed by state Rep. John ...

Children who are victims of sexual assault will be spared more hardship under a bill proposed by state Rep. John Connor, D-Lockport, which would allow courts to prevent accused predators from personally questioning their accusers.

"As a prosecutor, one of the toughest experiences is watching a child be questioned by an attorney during a trial," Connor said. "For that child to have to be questioned by the predator who victimized them is stomach-turning. This bill eliminates a loophole where a defendant can intentionally represent themselves so they can re-victimize the child on the stand."

Connor proposed House Bill 3191, which would allow judges to prevent defendants representing themselves from questioning victims during the trial. If the judge finds that the defendant conducting the questioning would be traumatic to the child, they can order the process to be handled by an attorney.

"Catching a sexual predator is only the first step to prevent them from hurting more people," Connor said. "Trials can be extremely traumatic for a victim as well. We cannot compel them to endure another confrontation with their assaulter, especially when the victim is a child, and especially when we have public defenders available as an easy solution."