Oregon House of Representatives passes a bill to protect sexual assault survivors’ privacy

The Oregon House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 3476 on April 13 to help protect the confidentiality of communications between sexual assault survivors and their advocates.

The bill was, in part, a response to the controversial request and release of a University of Oregon student’s counseling records while the university was preparing for a potential lawsuit last December. The student threatening legal action claimed the UO had mishandled her alleged sexual assault by three men’s basketball players.

In January of this year, the student eventually sued the UO claiming that the records release was a violation of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, a piece of federal legislation that protects student privacy rights.

Later, UO attorney Doug Park said he would have acted differently in obtaining these records.

The suit also claimed that her Title IX rights were violated when head UO’s men’s basketball coach Dana Altman recruited Brandon Austin, a former basketball player from Rhode Island with previous sexual assault convictions. Austin was one of the perpetrators named in the alleged assault.

Under the new bill, for any record of these communications to be released, the survivor must give consent. Otherwise, the information requested will not be admissible in Oregon courtrooms, both in civil and criminal cases.

HB 3476 has passed the House, and will next go through the Senate before being signed into law.

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Alexandria Cremer

Alexandria Cremer