WA to become third state to punish ‘stealthing.’ Here’s what else will become law on Monday

On Monday, Washington will become the third state in the nation to allow punishment for “stealthing,” the act of removing or tampering with a sexually protective device before or during intercourse without a partner’s consent.

While California and Maine also have laws against the practice, Washington’s law is more expansive. It adds dental dams, spermicides, cervical caps, and other devices used to prevent pregnancies and the spread of disease to the list of barriers that cannot be removed or tampered with.

Stealthing is also considered a form of rape and treated as such in some places, such as Germany and Canada.

According to the bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Liz Berry, D-Seattle, the new law will create a pathway to justice for survivors of sexual assault.

Under the new law, a person who has been the victim of stealthing would be able to bring a civil case against the perpetrator, and perpetrators could face a $5,000 penalty per violation.

The law also creates room for a court to consider previous findings of liability regarding stealthing, and allows courts to award court fees and attorney’s fees to the petitioner.

Several other bills that were passed during the 2024 legislative session also will become law Monday.

Crime victim’s rights

Senate Bill 5937 supports crime victims and witnesses by promoting victim-centered, trauma-informed responses.

This new law expands crime victim’s rights to include “victims, survivors of victims, and witnesses of crimes.” It allows minors 13 or older who are sexually assaulted to consent to forensic examinations without a parent present. It also removes the statute of limitations for first responders who commit offenses by using their position.

Additionally, the law creates the Statewide Forensic Nurse Coordination Program to provide assistance with sexual assault training and to provide assistance to healthcare workers who conduct forensic examinations. The law will also expand eligibility for the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program, a program that reimburses victims for costs such as forensic examinations associated with crimes.

Cash assistance programs

House Bill 2007 expands time limit exemptions applicable to cash assistance programs.

Currently, federal law places a five-year limitation on benefits through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, but states are allowed to extend those limitations for a certain percentage of families and individuals who receive the benefits. Those who receive TANF are required to attend workforce training through the WorkFirst program, unless they are exempt.

This law expands the time limit for parents and legal guardians of children under 2 years old in the same household if they also qualify for infant, toddler, or postpartum exemptions from the WorkFirst program.

Opioid epidemic in tribal communities

Senate Bill 6099 creates the Tribal Opioid Prevention and Treatment Account.

This new account will be used to address issues related to the opioid epidemic in Tribal communities. Funding from the account can be used for “prevention and recovery services, treatment programs including medication-assisted treatment, peer services, awareness campaigns, education, and support for first responders,” the bill says.

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