The Judiciary Committee approved legislation Friday that would close a loophole in the state’s sexual assault laws for victims with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
Rep. Gerald Fox, D-Stamford, said the bill would protect individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities who have no ability to say “no” to their attacker. It clarifies what it means for someone with a disability to resist their attacker.
The state Supreme Court decided in 2012 that a person is not considered physically helpless under Connecticut law unless their disability leaves them unconscious.
The case involved a woman whose disabilities included cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and hydrocephalus — a condition that allows fluid to build-up in the skull and leads to brain swelling. The court found she was not helpless because of her ability to bite, kick, and scratch, despite her lack of nonverbal communication and inability to walk.
Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, said he understands the decision of the court, but “it seems heart wrenching.”
Fox said the language in the legislation says it will be considered a sexual assault even if the individual is “unable to resist.”
“This will make it clear as we move forward,” Fox said.
This is the fourth year the legislation has been introduced and advocates are optimistic it will receive broad support. In the past, lawmakers were reluctant to intervene while the case was being debated by the courts.