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New York Governor Bans Use of Lie Detector Tests on Rape Victims; Government Bans Sedative Blamed for Date Rape

On Tuesday, Gov. George Pataki of New York signed legislation prohibiting law-enforcement officials from subjecting rape victims to polygraph tests. A previous law merely barred authorities from requiring the use of such tests. "Survivors of sexual assault should not be victimized a second time with frequent and grossly insensitive requests to take a polygraph test," Pataki said. "This bill takes a long- overdue step forward in protecting the rights of sexual assault victims." Pataki also cited the fact that emotional responses of victims while being questioned about the crime can affect the test and give the false impression that they are lying.

Advocates for rape victims have maintained that victims can be discouraged from reporting the crime if there is the potential of being subjected to a lie detector test. According to Maud Easter, the executive director of the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, "Polygraph tests have symbolized the climate in which victims do not come forward because they do not expect to be believed." Easter said passage of the bill was "one important step toward creating a new climate of respectful treatment for victims of sexual violence."

In a separate development, a sedative known as Rohypnol was banned for importation Tuesday, as the government called the pill a growing threat to teenagers and young adults. The drug, manufactured in 60 countries and used legally in 60 nations for insomnia, has often been associated with date rape. Women have reported being assaulted after their drinks were spiked with the drug which creates a drunk, sleepy feeling that peaks after two hours and lasts about eight. The drug had been gaining popularity in Florida and Texas, and is manufactured by the Swiss-based F. Hoffman La Roche & Co.

Media Resources: The New York Times - March 6, 1996; The Washington Post - March 6, 1996