‘Your Voice Has Power’ group disappointed San Diego County Supervisors voted against SB 248
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Mary Taylor, violent sexual assault survivor and member of “Your Voice Has Power” group, presented a public statement to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors on March 2, pleading with them to publicly endorse Senate Bill 248, which ensures that victims of sexually violent predators are permitted to testify in a public forum.
The Board voted 3-2 on SB 248, with Supervisors Nora Vargas, Terra Lawson-Remer, and Nathan Fletcher voting to not endorse the bill, and Supervisors Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond voting to endorse the bill.
Taylor joined KUSI’s Ginger Jeffries on Good Evening San Diego to discuss the details of SB 248, the efforts of the Your Voice Has Power group, and her disappointment with the Democrat County Supervisors.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors began discussing this issue at about the 1:16:30 mark in the video here.
Taylor presented the following statement to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors before the vote:
My name is Mary. I am here to ask the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to endorse SB248, which demands transparency in all legal matters as they pertain to sexually violent predators who have been civilly committed.
I am here both as a survivor of a violent sexual assault and a member of the community group, “Your Voice Has Power,” a group formed back in 2018 to address the injustices of the California Judicial System as they pertain to the rights of victims of sexually violent predators, as well as the rights of the community to be informed and kept safe.
Being the victim of a violent sexual assault leaves scars that run deep. A part of the recovery process is re-establishing your power and control. It is how a person moves from being a victim to a survivor. That is why being a part of the legal proceeding that would determine if my assailant would be released was very important to me. I made it my priority.
So, I used my personal leave time to take time off from work, made my way down to the San Diego Superior Court, paid for parking, went through the elaborate security, stood outside the courtroom in a hot hallway, sometimes for hours, waiting to be let in — only to find out, on repeated occasions, that the Judge decided to ‘close the proceedings’, typically with no explanation other than vague references to the plaintiff’s rights to privacy. And I was not standing there alone. There were other victims and members of the community, including the media, who were suddenly shut out as well.
I want you to understand, it was more than just being ‘inconvenienced’ and feeling like my time and money were ‘wasted.’ By closing the court, the Judge also closed off all access to the information that he would use in making his decision. How could I, or the members of the community, accept the final decision of the court, if we were completely cut off from the information germane to making that decision?
It was devastating to realize that my rights did not matter at all, just like they did not matter to my assailant the night he broke into my home and attacked me at knifepoint. I felt violated and victimized all over again, this time by the courts.
SB 248 prioritizes rights guaranteed to citizens under the US Constitution to hold court proceedings in open court, and holds judges accountable for only making a decision to supersede this right of the public, under compelling and extraordinary circumstances. It also holds the courts accountable for timely communication of such a decision.
Not only does this proposed law make our legal justice system more transparent, it gives victims of sexual violence the opportunity to GAIN BACK THEIR POWER! I urge the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to publicly endorse Senate Bill 248.