PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – South Dakota legislators on the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to move forward Thursday with a bill that would offer more support and protection to court witnesses under the age of 16.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Tim Reed, grant kids counsel during testimony, physical distance from a defendant who has allegedly abused them, psychological support – like a trusted person or an emotional support animal – to be present, and taking necessary breaks.
Several people testified in support of the bill, including attorney Lara Roetzel.
At least 13 other states already have advanced protections available when children are required to testify in court.