Clark County residents share their personal story behind Rivers’ bill to increase protection for victims of sexual abuse

Rivers_SB6069The two Clark County sisters who inspired Sen. Ann Rivers to introduce Senate Bill 6069 were present for Monday’s bill signing. Thanks to their personal story, victims of sexual abuse now have an extra layer of protection between them and their abuser.

18th District residents Jennifer Chilton and Kimberly Abell told Rivers they were mortified when their abuser – who happened to be their father – tracked them down upon his early release from prison. Chilton said when they notified the district attorney’s office they were told there was nothing they could do to protect themselves.

“This had to change – for us and for all of the other victims out there,” Chilton said. “That’s when my sister and I got to work to change California law, which is where we were living at the time. It took a long time, but a bill passed and finally became law in 2006. My sister and I now call the great state of Washington home, but it didn’t take us long to realize that Washington law books were void of the protection we fought so hard for in California.”

“It’s a great feeling to know that this bill will help give victims a peace of mind,” said Rivers, R-La Center. “I’m so thankful that Kimberly and Jennifer were brave enough to come to me with their story and fight for something that should’ve already been established years ago. It’s a simple bill, but it has the potential to make a huge impact in the lives of many people across the state, and I think we should be doing whatever we can to protect victims of sexual abuse and their families.”

“I was so grateful to Senator Rivers when she said she wanted to sponsor this legislation for us,” Abell said. “We were both impressed with how quickly the bill moved through the process, considering it took eight months in California.”

Effective June 12, victims will be able to request notice from the state Department of Corrections when a specific sex offender is released or transferred, as well as request that the offender refrain from contacting the victim and/or immediate family member. Rivers’ bill was unanimously approved by the Senate and House of Representatives during this year’s legislative session, which adjourned last Thursday.