Inside LADA

September 24, 2020: Child Molestation Victim Inspires Legislation -- UPDATED

Richard Dooley knew the law needed to change.

The deputy district attorney had just rejected a request from the family of a child molestation victim seeking a temporary work visa.

The District Attorney’s Office reviews more than 500 such requests each year. Crime victims may apply for visas to remain and work temporarily in the United States if they have cooperated in the investigation and prosecution of the crimes against them.

But this request was different: The child molester was a juvenile.

That meant Dooley could not access the juvenile’s criminal case file to verify one of the primary conditions of the law: That the victim assisted authorities in the criminal case.

“Having to deny this request was an injustice,” Dooley said.

He took action and helped draft Assembly Bill 2321, which now sits on Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk, awaiting his signature to become law. (UPDATE: Gov. Newsom signed the bill into law on Sept. 30.)

The bill, authored by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer of Los Angeles, would give judges and prosecutors limited access to juvenile records to certify a victim’s cooperation when considering requests for visas.

“This bill gives undocumented crime victims access to the same immigration considerations as other crime victims throughout the United States, regardless of the age of their perpetrator,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said.

The law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.