Advocates: Utah sexual assault bill could harm victims

(Leah Hogsten  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)   (Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) "I am focused on making legislation a larger pillar of what UCASA does," said Turner C. Bitton, the new executive director of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA), Thursday, December 9, 2016. Established in 1996 with federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) funding, UCASA is a statewide coordinating coalition of rape crisis providers and victim advocacy organizations.

A Utah lawmaker is gearing up to run a bill that could require colleges give amnesty to sexual assault victims for conduct code violations related to alcohol and drugs and allow school officials to report serious assaults to police.

But a sexual assault survivor and an advocacy group are pushing back against the measure, saying it wouldn’t stop schools from investigating many sexual assault victims.

Turner Bitton, of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, says many assaults don’t involve alcohol and drugs. He says the measure also could result in fewer victims reporting assaults to their school because they don’t want officials going to law enforcement.

Bill sponsor Republican Rep. Kim Coleman says the measure is meant to make sure institutions are taking the right steps to reduce these crimes.