San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is scheduled to testify Tuesday before the state Senate Judiciary Committee in Sacramento in support of legislation that would prevent victims from being forced to pay alimony to ex-spouses convicted of violent sexual crimes against them.
Assembly Bill 1522, introduced by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, was inspired by the case of Crystal Harris of Carlsbad who was ordered to pay her former husband monthly spousal support even after he was charged with sexually assaulting her.
After he was convicted of forced oral copulation and sentenced to six years in prison, Harris, a financial analyst, was ordered to pay a portion of his legal fees. She also was ordered to pay some of the attorney fees Shawn Harris incurred during their divorce and agreed in a settlement to pay $47,000 of his approximately $100,000 in divorce-related legal fees.
Crystal Harris, 39, is also scheduled to testify before the Judiciary Committee this morning.
"The District Attorney's Office is working hard to change the law that allowed Crystal Harris to be re-victimized, and (today's) testimony is the latest step in that legislative process," Dumanis said. "We need to make sure this can't happen again to victims of violent crime."
Current law already prevents spousal support in cases of attempted murder or the solicitation of the murder of a spouse. AB 1522 would add violent sex felonies to the list of convictions that disqualify a person from obtaining financial benefits from an ex-spouse in a divorce proceeding.
AB 1522 passed the California Assembly by a unanimous vote in April. Senate Judiciary Committee members will consider amendments to the bill.
-City News Service