The Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday postponed the vote on a proposed cyberbullying law.
The legislation, called "Audrie's Law," would expand California's definition of rape to include the sexual assault of an unconscious or developmentally disabled person. The measure is sought by the family of Audrie Pott, a 15-year-old Saratoga High School student who was sexually assaulted while unconscious at a house party in 2012, and later committed suicide.
Audrie’s Law, or SB 838, introduced by Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose), would close a statutory loophole that fails to recognize the sexual violation of an unconscious or developmentally disabled victim as forcible rape.
The bill would also require a mandatory minimum two-year sentence for juveniles who are convicted in juvenile court of raping an unconscious or developmentally disabled person and to allow such cases to be tried in an open courtroom.
"We feel what we are asking for a two-year minimum sentence is completely reasonable and warranted," said Sheila Pott, Audrie's mother. "And the public wants this."
The Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice opposes the bill.
"This bill would be the first mandatory minimum sentence in the juvenile justice system in our state," said Lizzie Buchen, Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice. "It has been tried in adult court and is very ineffective, and it doesn't prevent crime."
Another group, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, sent a letter to Tom Ammiano, the chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee. The letter claims the proposed bill is using Audrie's death to wreak havoc on the juvenile justice system.
Sheila Pott disagrees with the letter's claim and said Audrie's Law will only help victims like her daughter.
The bill stems from what happened to Audrie at a party in 2012. She drank too much and passed out. Later there were photos of her lying unconscious with words scribbled on her body, images that would be shared with others.
On her Facebook page, Audrie expressed that her life was ruined and that others knew what happened. She killed herself on Sept. 12 of that year. The three teens involved were sentenced under the juvenile justice system with penalties of 30 to 45 days.
Jodi Hernandez and Christie Smith contributed to this report.