Gov. Christie OKs Closed Circuit Television Testimony for Sexual Violence Survivors
Trenton, N.J. – Gov. Chris Christie (R – N.J.) signed legislation (A1199/S1326) allowing an increased number of survivors of sexual and domestic violence to testify against their abusers in court via closed circuit television (CCTV) rather than face-to-face.
Previously, only survivors under the age of 16 were afforded the option to request to testify via CCTV. The new provision expands this option to all survivors of sexual and domestic violence.
The legislation originally expanded access to closed circuit testimony for a greater number of domestic violence victims and NJCASA advocated for amendments to include survivors of sexual violence as well.
“Sexual violence is a vastly underreported crime, and we want every survivor who chooses to report their assault to feel comfortable as they pursue justice through our legal system,” said Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of NJCASA. “It’s well-documented that many survivors of sexual assault experience post-traumatic stress, which could make seeing a perpetrator face-to-face unbearable. Providing an opportunity for sexual assault survivors to testify via closed circuit television will provide increased access to justice for some of our most vulnerable citizens. We thank the legislature and Governor Christie for their leadership and commitment to all survivors in New Jersey.”
The technology shall allow for the live observation of the victim or witness by the defendant, jury, and judge during the course of testimony or cross-examination, while excluding a victim or witness from directly hearing or viewing the defendant during the proceedings. Under the new law, video recording of the testimony would not be recorded; only an audio archive would be preserved.
The National Crime Victim Law Institute found that less than 20 percent of rapes committed against adults are reported to law enforcement and less than 40 percent of reported rapes result in criminal prosecution.
ABOUT NJCASA: The New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (www.njcasa.org) is the statewide technical assistance and capacity building organization that represents New Jersey’s 21 county-based rape crisis centers and the Rutgers University Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance. NJCASA elevates the voice of sexual violence survivors and service providers by advocating for survivor-centered legislation, training-allied professionals, and supporting statewide prevention strategies that work to address and defy the socio-cultural norms that permit and promote rape culture.