Helping W.Va. Victims of Rape

Sexual assault is a brutal, life-changing crime. We West Virginians do what we can to prevent it, bring perpetrators to justice and help victims.

Earlier this year, it seemed a step forward had been taken. A bill that would have improved treatment sexual assault victims receive at health care facilities was introduced in the state Legislature. In essence, it would have ensured victims were treated by trained sexual assault nurse examiners.

As we pointed out this winter, too many cases against rapists suffer because evidence – “rape kits” – is not processed properly. The bill would have helped in that regard.

Lawmakers seemed on board in support of the bill but, on the last day of the Legislature’s regular session, it failed to gain passage. It was included in the call for a special session, when the measure gained approval and was sent to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

But the governor was not able to sign the measure, because of a technical flaw in how the bill was written. He is prohibited by law from signing such legislation.

Other work remained on legislators’ plates after the regular and extended sessions ended. Tomblin is expected to call them back for another special session later this year.

Legislative leaders agree the bill should be corrected and reconsidered. Clearly, Tomblin should include it in his call for a special session, and this time, lawmakers should ensure the measure does not contain technical errors.