SACRAMENTO — State lawmakers approved a bill Monday that would require witnesses to report violent and sexual crimes against minors, a measure prompted by the Richmond gang rape.
The state Senate approved the bill authored by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, on a bipartisan 29-0 vote. The item now moves to the state Assembly for consideration.
Under the proposal, people who reasonably believe they have witnessed a murder, rape or lewd or lascivious act with a child under the age of 18 must notify police. Violators would face a $1,500 fine or up to six months in jail, or both. That goes further than existing law, which is limited to crimes against minors under the age of 14.
The bill was in response to the October assault in Richmond in which a 16-year-old girl was raped for about two hours by a group of men and boys. As many as 20 witnesses did not report the crime.
Word of what was happening spread and finally reached resident Margarita Vargas, who called 9-1-1. Six suspects, ranging in age from 15-21, have been arraigned and pleaded not guilty.
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