(San Diego) - A bill by Assemblymember Toni Atkins that would prevent those convicted of violent sex crimes against their spouse from forcing their victim to pay spousal support following a divorce was signed into law today by Governor Jerry Brown. AB 1522 received unanimous support in both houses of the state legislature.
AB 1522 was inspired by the case of Crystal Harris, a San Diego area woman who was ordered by a court to pay her husband’s legal fees, plus monthly spousal support, despite the fact that he was convicted of committing violent sex crimes against her and was ultimately sent to prison. The bill was sponsored by San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who brought Harris’ case to Assemblymember Atkins’ attention.
“With the Governor’s signing of AB 1522 a wrong has been righted,” says Atkins. “Crystal Harris was victimized twice – first by the husband who sexually assaulted her, a crime for which he was ultimately convicted, and then again by a court that forced her to pay him. With AB 1522 now part of the law, this can no longer happen in California.”
“I want to applaud Crystal Harris for the spirit and tenaciousness she showed in working to change the law to reflect common sense and fairness. I also want to thank the District Attorney, my colleagues in the legislature, and the Governor for protecting victims of domestic violence.”
Current law already prevents spousal support in cases of the attempted murder or soliciting the murder of a spouse. AB 1522 would add violent sex felonies to the list of convictions that disqualify a person from obtaining financial benefits from their ex-spouse in a divorce proceeding.