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‘Kayleigh’s Law’ proposed to give lifetime protection to sexual assault survivors

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 9:02 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2021 at 10:30 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A Wisconsin legislator wants to give lifetime protection to sexual assault victims with “Kayleigh’s Law,” introduced Wednesday.

The bill proposed by State Representative Barbara Dittrich (R - Oconomowoc) would allow sexual assault victims to petition for their convicted assailants’ restraining orders to last a lifetime.

Currently, in Wisconsin, restraining orders for adults can last up to four years with some extensions.

“Probably all of us know somebody who has been through this [sexual assault], and we may not even know it because it’s such a deeply personal and difficult thing,” Dittrich said. “I know many people have gone through this, and this would really empower these victims and restore their dignity.”

Kayleigh’s Law was inspired by Kayleigh Kozak from Arizona. She saw the law get signed in her home state in April, and, with a goal of reaching all states, she said she reached out to Dittrich.

“We would be the second state to do it which makes me also very excited,” Dittrich said. She introduced the bill Wednesday alongside Kozak at a press conference.

“I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse,” Kozak told NBC15. “He was my PE teacher, my soccer coach, and he groomed me and did things that he should not have done.”

After coming forward at 14 years old, Kozak said her assailant was convicted. But last year, she heard her assailant’s probation could end.

“They don’t get to do that. They don’t get to just re-insert themselves in your life because they want to,” she said. “This law... should prevent them from doing that because there will be direct consequences.”

Moving forward in the Badger State, the bill will seek co-sponsors, Dittrich said. Senator Jerry Petrowski (R - Marathon) is the author of the legislation in the Senate.

Dana Pellebon, co-executive director of the Rape Crisis Center in Madison, said the bill “deserves bipartisan support.” She continued, “Survivors of sexual violence have had their safety violated and once a restraining order or probation terminates, any rebuild of that sense of safety can end. With Kayleigh’s Law, survivors of sexual violence have another layer of protection for their lifetime.”

Dittrich expects to see the bill in hearings this fall.

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