The state Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday advanced a bill that would define “stealthing” as a form of rape, though lawmakers said it was unclear whether or how it would be enforced.
Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) introduced the legislation in May through the “gut and amend” process, stripping the contents of an unrelated bill to insert the new language. It targets stealthing, or the practice of intentionally removing or tampering with a condom during sexual intercourse without consent.
The latest version of the bill would make it a crime of felony sexual battery to remove or tamper with a condom or intentionally use, without consent, a condom that has been tampered with during sex. It also goes further, making it a felony to lie about being on birth control or another form of contraception other than a condom.
The stealthing bill follows another proposal by Garcia to expand the legal definition of rape that became law this year. It moved out of the Senate committee with a 4-2 vote, but members questioned how it could be enforced and whether it could potentially entangle innocent people.
Garcia conceded the latter “is a possibility like with any of our laws.”
She said she amended the bill to criminalize lying about birth control at the request of the Senate Public Safety Committee. It was a compromise, she said, but not at the stake of losing what she sees as the purpose of the legislation: elevating the discourse on rape culture.
“The goal here is to call it what is, to put in the books, so that people know it is a crime,” she said. “It is part of the process to allow discretion of district attorneys and judges to do their job, and more often than not the judicial system is on the right side of not sending innocent people to prison.”
The issue is personal for Garcia, who said she has been a victim of stealthing several times in the past.
“People are really having a hard time [with this bill] because it involves consensual sex, but ‘yes’ doesn’t mean everything,” she said. “We need to be clear about what consent is and we need to have those discussions in society.”
4:00 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Garcia.
This article was originally published at 6:00 a.m.
State legislators from Los Angeles County were divided Wednesday over a proposal to expand the Board of Supervisors and create a new elected position of county executive, but the proposal in the end won a recommendation from a key Senate panel.
Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) said his proposal for a statewide ballot measure that would expand the board from five to seven members would make the panel more representative and accessible. Currently each board member represents about 2 million people.
“Representing more than 1 million people makes access to a supervisor nearly impossible for an individual when they need help to access county services, a key function of local government,” Mendoza told the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee, which voted 4 to 1 to approve Senate Constitutional Amendment 12. It must go through another committee and be voted on in each chamber.
Sen. Henry Stern (D-Woodland Hills), the committee’s chairman, voted against the measure. He said he was wary of having the government of Los Angeles County set by the Legislature and voters in other counties, including San Francisco.
“I am uncomfortable making these decisions here in the Legislature,” Stern said. On board members, Stern added, “If we feel they are not representing us well, we can vote them out of office.”
The measure is opposed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, which said in a letter to lawmakers that the decision should be for county voters to make, not voters statewide. County voters have rejected board expansion measures eight times going back to 1926.
“SCA 12 completely undermines the ability of county residents to self-govern,” the board letter says.
The measure was supported on the panel by Democratic Sens. Benjamin Allen of Santa Monica and Robert Hertzberg of Los Angeles, among others.
“All I know is the people in the San Gabriel Valley don’t have a hell of a lot in common with people of the San Fernando Valley in terms of issues that affect them on a day-to-day basis,” Hertzberg said describing one district. “It is just too damn big.”