Governor signs bill protecting spousal assault victims

Bill in response to case of Crystal Harris

SAN DIEGO -  

A woman who was raped by her own husband and then forced to pay him spousal support in prison has finally received justice.

No one might have believed Crystal Harris was being raped by her husband if not for an audio recording of an attack in 2008. He was convicted of the crime and sent to prison in 2010. 

At a news conference Friday, Harris remembered how a judge in divorce court ordered her to pay her husband $1,000 a month in alimony and an extra $47,000 in attorney's fees.

"He just kept saying, 'Ma'am, you make more money. You're going to pay,'" said Harris. 

Harris, a Carlsbad financial advisor, decided she was not going to be a victim again.

"I said, 'Well if you do this, I'm going to go change the law,'" she said. 

After hearing her story, 10News alerted the district attorney about Harris' situation. The district attorney put Harris in touch with Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, who sponsored the bill, AB-1522. 

The bill made its way through the California legislature with overwhelming support. On Friday, it was signed by the governor. 

"With the governor's signature of AB-1522, a wrong has been righted," said Atkins. 

The bill ends alimony payments for spouses convicted of violent sexual felonies against their partner. It does not allow for victims to reclaim the money already paid to their abusers, but it will keep any future victims from having to pay as Harris did.

However, the legal battle is not yet over for Harris. She said her ex-husband is taking her back to court, asking for another $25,000.

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