Cameras banned from hearing as rape victim testifies on parental rights bill

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Sen. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, is the chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

DENVER — It was a unanimous, bipartisan vote aimed at protecting rape victims — and a vote no television cameras were permitted to see.

Senate Bill 227, which cleared the Senate Judiciary Commitee on a 5-0 vote Monday afternoon, will allow Colorado courts to terminate all parental rights of a convicted rapist when a rape results in the birth of a child.

The bill does not relieve the rapist of child support obligations, unless those obligations are waived by the survivor.

FOX31 Denver was one of two local television stations whose cameras were barred from the hearing room Monday afternoon at the request of the committee chair, Sen. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver.

Apparently, the decision was out of respect to a rape victim who was scheduled to testify before the committee; however, lobbyists and staffers working in support of the legislation had already told reporters that the victim herself had agreed to allow media to record her testimony as long as the cameras didn’t show her face and identify her by name.

It’s understandable if Senate Democrats are a bit nervous about being recorded speaking about the delicate subject of rape; Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, continues to receive hate mail for her videotaped exchange as she questioned the testimony of a rape victim during last month’s debate of a controversial gun control measure that sought to ban concealed weapons on college campuses.

And another Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Commerce City, also took heat for arguing that college women could defend themselves from on-campus rapes with “whistles and call boxes” during a debate on the same bill.

According to statistics, one in six women will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime; and a number of rapes result in pregnancy

If S.B. 227 is signed into law, Colorado will become the 32nd state to restrict the parental rights of rapists.

“Allowing convicted rapists to have parental rights is a dangerous notion,” said Senate Majority Leader Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, the bill’s sponsor. “It allows the rapist access to the family of the survivor, and he may use the access to coerce and torment the survivor.

“Through this bill, we can help protect the survivor and her family from having to communicate with her rapist.”