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On its second attempt, a California bill toughening punishments for sexually abusing unconscious victims advanced out of committee on Tuesday.

Named for a 15-year-old girl who committed suicide after she was raped while unconscious, "Audrie's Law" also cracks down on offenders sharing photos on social media. Before taking her life, Audrie Potts wrote about being humiliated as photos of the crime circulated.

After Senate Bill 838 stalled in the Assembly Public Safety Committee last week, Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, amended the measure by nixing a mandatory two-year confinement for juveniles convicted of sex crimes involving an unconscious or disabled victim, swapping it for a mandatory rehabilitation term. It passed unanimously with the amendment.

Most of the bill's provisions apply to adults or juveniles tried as adults. Depending on the severity of the offense, certain sex crimes allow juveniles to be tried as adults.

The version of SB 838 next headed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee still imposes a one-year prison term for sexually assault on someone who is unconscious or disabled. If an adult assailant disseminates pictures or texts afterwards, judges could slap on a one-year sentencing enhancement.

It would also remove privacy protections for juvenile offenders, opening up to the public cases in which the victim is unable to resist.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's office sponsored the bill.

PHOTO: Senator Jim Beall, D-San Jose during session in the Senate chambers in Sacramento, Calif. on Monday, March 11, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.


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