Senators Consider Added Privacy Protections For Child Sexual Assault Victims

Jan 21, 2020

A proposal that would further protect the identities of children who are sexually assaulted or exploited is moving ahead in the Iowa Legislature.

Under the bill (SF 2005) from Sen. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs, assault victims who are kept anonymous during criminal trials could also have their privacy protected during related civil lawsuits. Also, a person who was abused as a minor would be able to hide their identity from the public if they report the incident to law enforcement as an adult.

“No matter what time they report later on in life, if they would have had protections when the act occurred, they would still have protections unless they otherwise decide they want to come forward,” Dawson said in a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday.

Dawson said some assault survivors are reluctant to come forward as adults because their names may be publicized. Amy Campbell of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which supports the bill, said allowing more anonymity in the process could remove that obstacle.

“When a child is a victim of sexual assault, they have lost control,” Campbell told the subcommittee. “We believe that it’s important victims have that control over deciding when and how they come forward and whether they want to have that information about them released.”

No one spoke against the proposal, but Dawson said he would work with the Iowa Bar Association to clarify a process for making victims' names anonymous during civil court proceedings.

The bill passed out of subcommittee, making it eligible for consideration by full the Senate Judiciary Committee.