State Watch

NY lawmaker introduces bill to define consent

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A New York state lawmaker on Tuesday introduced new legislation that seeks to put into law for the first time an official definition of consent to provide clarity in cases of sexual assault and misconduct. 

New York Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright (D) announced the bill in a press release, writing that the measure would “replace the current practice at criminal trials of leaving juries to deliberate over the meaning of consent without any guidance from the statute.” 

If passed, the bill would officially define consent in New York as “freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement … obtained without the use of malice such as forcible compulsion, duress, coercion deception, fraud, concealment, or artifice.”

Seawright, who introduced the bill on Sexual Assault Awareness Month’s National Day of Action, said in the statement that the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that a sex crime is committed every 73 seconds. 

“We must stop this rising trend by clearly defining consent, thereby empowering our police and prosecutors to take action,” she added.  

Joyce Short, the founder and executive director of Consent Awareness Network and author of “Your Consent: The Key to Conquering Sexual Assault,” helped craft the bill’s language, and said Tuesday that by providing a set definition for consent, “our laws will consistently hold sexual predators accountable and conquer sexual assault as well as laying down the law in other crimes.” 

Short told ABC News that similar language on consent was included in a draft bill in Pennsylvania, and has also been proposed by a New Jersey state senator. 

The New York legislation has also received the support of two women who testified against disgraced Hollywood film magnate Harvey Weinstein over charges of rape and criminal sexual assault. 

Tarale Wulff, a New York actor and model, said in a statement that Weinstein had repeatedly “claimed to be confused, and that he thought most men are confused” about the “true definition of consent.” 

“There’s a generation of woke individuals who won’t be silenced,” Wulff added. “By clearly defining consent, there will be no confusion.”

Creative director and model Dawn Dunning, who also testified against Weinstein, said “consent is consent in all things, not only sex.” 

“Applying consent in the general law makes it clear that the same ‘consent’ that protects your property also protects your body,” Dunning explained. 

Weinstein’s lawyers on Monday filed a motion to appeal his 2020 sexual assault conviction, arguing that a judge should have dismissed a juror who revealed that she had written a book that touched on themes of “sexual predation of older men.”

The 69-year-old is currently serving a 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault charges and is set to eventually be extradited to California to face additional charges there.

Tags ABC News alleged sexual assault Bureau of Justice Statistics California Consent Harvey Weinstein Hollywood New Jersey New York Pennsylvania rape convictions Sex and the law Sexual abuse Sexual consent
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