Sexual assault victims under age 21 could come forward to police without being cited for underage alcohol possession under a measure moving ahead in the Oregon legislature.
The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the bill. Republican Sen. Kim Thatcher said that while the bill does let minors in possession off the hook, it's a matter of priorities. "The reason is for a higher purpose,” she said. “And that is to hold perpetrators, assaulters, rapists accountable. Those are the people that need to be gone after, when compared to minors in possession."
The bill would also apply to minors who report a sexual assault to law enforcement on behalf of someone else. The measure now heads to the Oregon House.
The measure was introduced at the request of the Oregon Student Association, which advocates on behalf of college students. In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, Oregon State University student Jacqueline Logsdon said she was raped as an 18-year-old underclassman, but never reported the assault to police.
"I felt like I was to blame because I was under the influence of alcohol," she testified. "If legislators want to begin conversations and find solutions to a major problem on college campuses, the first step is allowing survivors the ability to come forward without fear of persecution on a legal level."