Proposed CA law to require violent crime reports

AP News
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Posted: Dec 17, 2009 5:54 PM

A California lawmaker wants to make it a crime when witnesses don't report all violent attacks to authorities.

Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, said Thursday his proposed legislation is in response to the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl outside of Richmond High School's homecoming dance on Oct. 24.

The measure would close a loophole in the law that currently requires witnesses to report a violent crime only if the victim is younger than 14, said Nava, a candidate for state attorney general.

"The law we have right now doesn't make sense," Nava said. "An opportunity was denied for this young girl."

Six males charged in the rape _ ranging in age from 15 to 21 _ have pleaded not guilty.

Investigators believe as many as 10 people participated in the Richmond gang rape, while another 20 or so watched without calling police. Nava said many onlookers laughed and apparently took pictures with cell phones.

"If we can get someone to actually use their phones to call for help instead of taking pictures with them, then that's a victory for us," Nava said.

Richmond police Lt. Mark Gagan said authorities had been talking to lawmakers about possible new legislation related to the case.

"People need to report crimes and cooperate with police if we're really going to have an impact," he said. "The people who watched and did not report it caused just as much outrage as those who were actively involved in the assault." Similar to the current law, the proposed legislation calls for up to six months in jail and a maximum $1,500 fine if defendants are convicted.

Christine Gasparac, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Jerry Brown, said his office could not comment because it had not seen the proposed measure.