Senator Rubio Introduces Child Sex Crime Victim Protection Act, Giving Minors Opportunity to Heal from Trauma and Abuse

February 15, 2023

SACRAMENTO, CA – Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) has introduced Senate Bill 545, which will provide child sex trafficking victims who attack their abusers with the opportunity to heal from their trauma with treatment and services in the juvenile or family court system instead of trying them as adults in the criminal court system and sending them to prison.  

“Children who have been victims of sexual assault and sex trafficking and fight back against their abusers deserve our understanding and empathy, not harsh prison sentences,” said Senator Susan Rubio. “I have heard the incredible pain from survivors like Sara Kruzan who have confronted this abuse first-hand. It is our duty to promote reintegration by responding with trauma-informed resources and common-sense judicial practices. Senate Bill 545 will require the courts to keep these children within the juvenile or family court system for treatment and services that provide them with healing and the ability to live a full, successful life.”

In 1995, Sara Kruzan was 17 years old when she was sentenced to life in prison for killing the man who trafficked her as a minor for four years. Kruzan served nearly two decades in prison before her sentence was commuted by Governor Jerry Brown and she was released in 2013. Governor Gavin Newsom pardoned Kruzan in 2022. Since her release from prison, Kruzan has worked with Congress and state legislatures to change laws around sentencing child victims of sex trafficking.

“For me, this bill is a recognition that the harm inflicted upon me as a child was a moral wrong and that society is working to rectify that wrong,” said Sara Kruzan, Stoneleigh Fellow with Human Rights for Kids. “If as a 16 year old child I was treated with the empathy, compassion and human kindness envisioned by Senator Rubio’s bill, I would not have endured nearly 20 years of unjust incarceration. This bill is about igniting hope in others and making a clear statement that our justice system will no longer allow such injustices to be imposed on child victims of sex abuse and sex trafficking.”

Senator Susan Rubio represents Senate District 22.

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