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Utah law professor supports “Duty to Assist in an Emergency” bill

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — House Minority Leader Rep. Brian King will introduce HB125 – ‘Duty to Assist in an Emergency’ to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday afternoon.

The bill would make it a class B misdemeanor to fail to provide reasonable assistance to someone in the event of a crime or another emergency.

“This bill would not mandate anyone to take actions that could put themselves in peril. The idea is to create a tool for prosecutors for the most egregious cases of callous indifference,” said Rep. King in a news release.

University of Utah Professor of Law Amos Guiora will speak in support of the legislation. Guiora is author of the 2017 book, The Crime of Complicity: The Bystander in the Holocaust, which addresses the consequences of the bystander in the Holocaust, as well as the effect of bystander inaction today – particularly regarding sexual assault.

“The law can no longer remain a bystander to victim suffering,” says Guiora. “From the cases of Dr. Larry Nassar, to Harvey Weinstein, to Matt Lauer, there are far too many examples of bystanders failing to mitigate victim suffering, by the simplest of acts. Representative King’s legislation does not impose on the bystander the obligation to be a hero, to provide CPR, to break up a fight or put themselves in harm’s way. Quite the opposite: the proposed legislation, which I fully endorse, imposes a very low bar and can be easily summarized in the following sentence: Just dial 9-1-1.”

Several states already have variations of this kind of law.