​FROM: George W. Kennedy, District Attorney

Ben Field, Deputy District Attorney
(408) 792-2593   For Immediate Release on July 18, 2002     NEW LAW TO BENEFIT THE VICTIMS OF SERIAL SEX OFFENDERS   Governor Gray Davis signed into law yesterday a bill that will substantially ease the burden on victims of serial sex offenders. Under the bill, AB 2252, sponsored by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office and authored by Assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn, victims of a serial sex offender could have their cases tried together in any county where the offender committed one or more of his sexual assaults.  Previously, California law required separate prosecutions in each county where a crime occurred, though all the victims would testify in each case.  This meant multiple trials with the same witnesses in different counties. “In the frequent cases where a sex offender crosses county lines to commit crimes, the victims may have to testify multiple times in multiple counties,” said Deputy District Attorney Ben Field, who drafted the legislation that addresses this problem.  “It is extremely difficult and painful for sexual assault victims to testify in one case,” Field said, “They should not be asked to testify over and over.”   Field is now prosecuting two cases that illustrate the problem that AB 2252 addresses: In one Santa Clara County case, the defendant, Marino Hernandez, is charged with abducting and raping a seven-year-old girl on her way to school.  He is also charged with raping two young girls in San Mateo County. In another Santa Clara County case, the defendant, Hector Sanchez, is charged with raping an elderly woman in Morgan Hill.  He is also charged in Santa Cruz County with sexually assaulting a young woman in Soquel.   Without AB 2252, the defendant in each of these cases could only be prosecuted in the counties where he committed his crimes, but all of his victims could testify in each case against him.  Field conducted a survey of district attorneys’ offices around the state and found that many counties had encountered the problem of serial sex offenders who crossed county lines.   The legislation would also add to the list of sexual offenses that can be used to prove that a defendant, who is charged with a sexual offense, has the predisposition to commit such crimes.  “This provision helps ensure that repeat sex offenders will be held accountable for their conduct,” said Deputy District Attorney James Cahan who specializes in sexual assault cases. “I am proud of this legislation and my office’s part in it,” Santa Clara County District Attorney George Kennedy said, “The legislation works a major change in the law that will benefit the victims of sexual abuse and save the taxpayers money.”   ###

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