District Attorney Declines to File Charges After Sexual Assault Investigation into Democratic Chair

San Diego County prosecutors will not file sexual assault charges against Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, the chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party.

“After a thorough review, we determined that no charges could be filed in this case,” San Diego County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Tanya Sierra said in an email on Friday. “We do not discuss our charging decisions except to say that we can only file charges when we believe we can prove them beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Rodriguez-Kennedy, who is currently on leave from his post, announced the district attorney’s decision in a press release on Friday. He repeated his denial of the sexual assault accusations lodged by an ex-boyfriend, adding that he had cooperated with investigators from both the San Diego Police Department and district attorney’s office.

“With this trauma behind me, I look forward to returning to my work in service of the public and my party,” Rodriguez-Kennedy said. “I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support I have received.”

Rodriguez-Kennedy’s leave of absence began in May, after the assault allegations became public in a Facebook post from activist Tasha Williamson. The accuser, who had turned to Williamson for guidance, said Rodriguez-Kennedy had sex with him while he was intoxicated and incapable of giving consent.

It’s still unclear when or if Rodriguez-Kennedy will return to his unpaid position as party chair.

Rebecca Taylor has been serving as acting chair during Rodriguez-Kennedy’s leave. Neither Taylor nor Ryan Hurd, executive director of the San Diego County Democratic Party, responded to an email by this story’s deadline.

Also unclear is the status of an internal investigation from the party itself. The party’s bylaws state its Ethics Committee shall conduct an initial review of any complaints against a party official within 14 days. After that review, the committee has 30 days to make a recommendation to the party’s Executive Committee, though that deadline can be extended.

The party said in a statement to KPBS in July: “The internal investigation process requires the information from the conclusion of the ongoing law enforcement investigation, and as such is still ongoing and cannot be commented on further.”

Click here to read the full article at KPBS.org

Why is Legislation To Correct A Serious Legal Loophole Getting Stonewalled In The Assembly?

Is the committee okay with sexual assault cases of people with disabilities not getting prosecuted?

A bill to close an odd legal loophole, supported by District Attorneys, Crime Victims United, and Peace Officers’ Research Association of California, is being stonewalled in the Assembly. AB 2017 by Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-Porterville) merely extends the same provisions granted to minors when giving testimony of child abuse during a criminal prosecution to victims who have a mental age under 12 as a result of an intellectual or developmental disability.

“The California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) supports AB 2017, your measure that allows for the admission of hearsay testimony of intellectually disabled victims in specified child abuse cases,” the DA’s association said in support. “We agree with you that more measures are needed to protect our most vulnerable victims in these sad cases. Your bill will help prosecutors hold offenders in these cases accountable, while still affording the courts a fair process for protecting the rights of the accused.”

The hearsay rule exemption is based exclusively upon chronological age, and does not take into consideration the sexual abuse of a minor with mental disabilities.

During a criminal prosecution, the hearsay rule states that a statement which was made other than by a witness while testifying at a hearing is inadmissible in court. However, this rule does not apply to statements made by victims who are under 12 years of age when describing any act or attempted act of child abuse with or on the child by another. There also exists a well-established legal precedent for granting both minors and those with disabilities certain exemptions and exceptions during court proceedings.

AB 2017 came about when a constituent from Mathis’ district had this happen to her daughter, as explained by a friend in a Facebook post:

“While in the care of a family member, her daughter was sexually assaulted. Her daughter went through a two hour CART interview process (recorded) at the police station and described her rape in detail. The mother believed that her daughters rapist would go to jail. When the Tulare County District Attorneys office reviewed the case, her daughter was labeled an “unreliable witness” due to her disabilities and the case was closed. No charges are pending against this man and he can go on to abuse someone else!! The mother has even had to hire an attorney to help her fight to get a permanent restraining order, this has become hard because there are no charges.”

The mom and the Tulare County District Attorney were planning on testifying on AB 2017 in the Public Safety Committee when Mathis’ office was notified by the committee consultant that the bill was not going to get supported.

Mathis’s office has more than 400 support letters from individuals in his district for AB 2017.

They said they took a meeting with both consultants from the Assembly Public Safety and Judiciary Committee and offered to make amendments, or work with them to find some middle ground, but said neither consultant was willing to do so, thus the email above.

The Globe contacted the Assembly Public Safety and Judiciary Committee consultant and asked:

“Since this bill seeks to address a legal loophole, can you tell me what are your concerns with the bill? I’d very much like to include all aspects of the issues in the article.”

We received a response back from Ms. Anderson:

“Good morning, Ms. Grimes.

Your first question seems premature since the bill will be heard in committee on March 29th. I am staff and do not vote on bills.  You will need to reach out to the individual members of the committee after they vote to see who supports the bill or not and why.”

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

Berkeley Bans Fraternity, Sorority Parties over Sexual Assault Allegations

UC BerkeleyThe University of California Berkeley’s Greek system has imposed a ban on all fraternity and sorority parties, following reports of two sexual assaults last week at off-campus frat functions.

The new restrictions are also a response to several sexual harassment incidents in the news lately,including the high-profile case of former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman outside of a party.

“We needed to take some time off and really assess our situation,” Interfraternity Council President Daniel Saedi, a 21-year-old senior at Berkeley, told the Los Angeles Times. “These are grave acts of violence that are occurring. They have no place anywhere in this country, let alone on college campuses.”

There is reportedly no timeline for the ban which Saedi referred to as “relatively unprecedented.”

The UC Berkeley Fraternity Council posted the announcement on its Facebook page:

The members of the Executive Board of the Interfraternity Council at the University of California, Berkeley, on behalf of our 1,500 constituents, wish to express our condemnation of the vile and unjust incidents that have recently occurred in our community. While we have no reason to believe that these were committed by fraternity men on this campus, it is still disheartening and alarming that they have occurred on fraternity property. We wish to reiterate our pledge to eliminate sexual violence from our community and reaffirm our commitment to our members and students of Berkeley to provide a safe environment for all.

At the same time, we recognize the immense courage it took for the survivors to report these crimes and will do everything in our power to respect their privacy and their wishes. The IFC has voluntarily decided to suspend all social events until we can reevaluate our risk management practices and care for those who have been affected.

According to the Times, Berkeley police said that two female students reported assaults at off-campus fraternity parties last weekend. Further, Berkeley’s crime statistics reportedly indicate 22 reported rapes on-campus or in student housing and four rapes that were reported off-campus last year.

Berkeley’s Chancellor, Nicholas Dirks, announced in August that he would resign from his post once a replacement is found. Dirks had faced criticism over his handling of a series of sexual abuse complaints on campus as well as being the center of several scandals.

The Times points out that in 2014, Emory University in Atlanta’s Interfraternity Council similarly voluntarily issued a self-imposed suspension of all their social activities after a reported sexual assault on the campus.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz

This piece was originally published by Breitbart.com/california

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