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Bentley Supports AB1522 to Modify Her Law

When I changed the California divorce law in 1995, it was limited to the conviction of a spouse for attempted murder. I was told that was the only way to get it passed. It irritated me that my bill was limited as there are many types of violent felonies committed against spouses. But I was the first to challenge the no-fault divorce law and I wanted the bill to pass. So I accepted the limitation. I documented my stuggle in my book "A Dance with the Devil: A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath."

Several years ago, a male victim rallied to have the crime of solicitation for murder added after he suffered at the hands of his wife. I was not aware of his effort, otherwise I would have testified on his behalf.

Today there is another attempt to modify my law and I wholeheartedly support the change. Imagine your spouse brutally rapes you and then you're required to pay him alimony before he goes to jail. And, you have to pay his attorney fees! Rediculous. Here's the press release that came out today and I'm honored to be included. I will be in the state capitol on Monday and Tuesday.

PRESS RELEASE (3/15/2012) Rape Victim Fights Back to Get Law Changed:No Alimony To Husband Convicted of Sexually Assaulting Her

Next Tuesday, March 20, 2012, Crystal Harris, a 39 year old successful financial analyst from Carlsbad California (San Diego County) and mother of 2 boys, will testify before the Judicial Committee of the California Assembly in support of Assembly Bill 1522 (Toni Atkins-D-San Diego) to stop the next judge from awarding alimony and attorneys fees to a spouse convicted of a violent sexual assault. In 2010, Ms. Harris’ husband was convicted by a jury of sexually assaulting her (forcible oral copulation). He is now serving a 6 year sentence at Norco State Prison. And, Ms. Harris was ordered, by San Diego Family Law Judge Gregory Pollack, to pay her husband’s attorneys fees ($47,000) and $1000/mo in alimony until her husband was imprisoned. Initially, the alimony award was $3000/mo, but, reduced due to the domestic violence. Ms. Harris calls it, the “rape discount”. The alimony is temporarily suspended while Shawn Harris is in prison and being 100% supported by taxpayers. Yet, under the current law, he will be entitled to ask for spousal support upon his release.

In 1995, Barbara Bentley fought back, too. After her husband was convicted of attempting to murder her and a judge ordered her to pay alimony and retirement and pension benefits, she fought tirelessly and successfully to get a law passed that prohibits California judges from awarding such benefits when a spouse is convicted of attempted murder or solicitation of murder. (Family Code Sections 782.5 & 4324). Ms. Bentley will also be at the hearing.

Now, Crystal Harris, along with the bill sponsor Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, California NOW, Barbara Bentley, political leaders on both sides, Crime Victims United, the California DA’s Association and many others are requesting that the law be amended to include “violent sexual felonies” as defined by Penal Code 667.5 (rape, sodomy, oral copulation, sexual penetration, and assault with intent to commit above felonies). It’s the right thing to do to protect victims from being further traumatized.
(In California, alimony is not mandated. It is awarded at the judge’s discretion and domestic violence incidents specifically allow judges to deny it.)

HEARING for AB 1522: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 9-11 am State Capitol, Assembly Judicial Committee

Copy of AB 1522: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_1501-1550/ab_1522_bill_20120118_introduced.html

Video of Crystal Harris Interviews & news reports on trial:
http://news.yahoo.com/victim-ordered-pay-attacker-spousal-support-201444230.html (good summary)
http://www.10news.com/news/29947450/detail.html (trial facts)

MEDIA INTERVIEWS CONTACT: Crystal Harris (cjharrispretzer@yahoo.com, (760) 402-9447) is available for in-person interviews in Sacramento/Bay Area next Monday & Tuesday, and telephone interviews.

Assembly Contacts:
Bill Sponsor, Assemblywoman Toni Atkins at (916) 319-2076
Judicial Committee Chair, Assemblyman Mike Feuer at (916) 319-2042
Committee Vice Chair, Assemblyman Donald Wagner at (916) 319-2070


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 20th, 2012 05:04 pm (UTC)
AB 1522 Call Huber
Please also call Assembly member Alyson Huber at (916) 319-2010 for your voice on the passing of AB1522 to support Crystal Harris.
Mar. 20th, 2012 09:20 pm (UTC)
Re: AB 1522 Call Huber
I just got back from the committee meeting. AB1522 passed out of committee but there was a dissenting vote from the assemblyman from Freemont. Assemblywoman Huber was supportive and aptly defended the bill against the silly oppostion. She also voted for the bill. Thanks to all who made telephone calls.
Jul. 13th, 2012 06:48 am (UTC)
Updates on AB 1522 - and thanks!
Hi Barbara,

I am the President of the National Organization of Women For Alimony Reform (NOWFAR) and have been following this story for some time.

I think this is a proviso that should be carried in all legislation pertaining to alimony in the USA.

Thank you for your efforts!

Nicole Mattar
Jul. 13th, 2012 06:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Updates on AB 1522 - and thanks!
Thanks for the comment, Nicole. It's great to hear that another strong women is heading a group that is working to right the wrongs of the family court system. Most of these laws were written before women became the bread winner of a family and the laws need to be adjusted to reflect the atrocities that now occur.....Barbara
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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