Protections for hate crime victims signed into law

The Associated Press
Thursday September 06, 2001



SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation Wednesday that prohibits insurers from canceling policies because of claims from hate-crime damages. 

Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, introduced the bill when one of the three Sacramento synagogues hit by arson fires two years ago had its insurance canceled because of its claims. 

“We are insuring that victims are not victimized twice, first by a perpetrator of hate and, second, by their own insurance company,” Davis said, signing the measure at Temple B’Nai Israel in Sacramento, whose insurance policy was canceled after an arson attack. 

The new law bars insurers from canceling or refusing to renew a policy of a religious or other nonprofit organization solely because it has filed claims stemming from a hate crime. 

The legislation is part of a batch of bills being sent to the governor as the Legislature wraps up its session this week and next. 

Two Shasta County brothers face federal charges in the arson attacks. James Tyler Williams, 31, and Benjamin Matthew Williams, 33, are also charged with the shooting deaths of two gay men in Happy Valley. 


Also signed by Davis Wednesday: 

• SB34, a bill that would force candidates and ballot measure committees to immediately disclose large campaign contributions. The measure, by Sen. John Burton, D-San Francisco, requires campaign contributions of $5,000 or more to be reported within 10 working days outside the 90-day election cycle. 

Current law requires candidates to file contribution reports every six months in non-election years and only slightly more frequently in election years. 

• AB78, A bill making it easier to prosecute old child sexual abuse cases. The bill relaxes the standard of proof in such cases to a preponderance of the evidence. 

The measure, by Assemblywoman Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara, stems from the case of a girl who said she was repeatedly raped by her mother’s boyfriend when she was 7 years old. 

The girl didn’t make the accusation until she was 15, saying the man threatened to kill her mother if she told anyone what had happened. 

Last summer a judge dismissed charges against the boyfriend, saying medical evidence supporting the girl’s story did not meet the clear-and-convincing standard required to extend the statute of limitations. 

•ß AB 488, by Assemblywoman Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, that permits consumers to find out who has been inquiring about their credit history. The bill was sponsored by the California Public Interest Research Group.