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December 06, 2023 Snow | 30°F
The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 20J: Sexual assault; confidential communications with sexual assault counsellor; disclosure; discovery

Section 20J. As used in this section the following words, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, shall have the following meaning:—

''Rape crisis center'', any office, institution or center offering assistance to victims of sexual assault and the families of such victims through crisis intervention, medical and legal counseling.

''Sexual assault counsellor'', a person who is employed by or is a volunteer in a rape crisis center, has undergone thirty-five hours of training, who reports to and is under the direct control and supervision of a licensed social worker, licensed mental health counselor, nurse, psychiatrist, psychologist or psychotherapist and whose primary purpose is the rendering of advice, counseling or assistance to victims of sexual assault.

''Victim'', a person who has suffered a sexual assault and who consults a sexual assault counsellor for the purpose of securing advice, counseling or assistance concerning a mental, physical or emotional condition caused by such sexual assault.

''Confidential communication'', information transmitted in confidence by and between a victim of sexual assault and a sexual assault counsellor by a means which does not disclose the information to a person other than a person present for the benefit of the victim, or to those to whom disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to the counseling and assisting of such victim. The term includes all information received by the sexual assault counsellor which arises out of and in the course of such counseling and assisting, including, but not limited to reports, records, working papers or memoranda.

A sexual assault counsellor shall not disclose such confidential communication, without the prior written consent of the victim; provided, however, that nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit the defendant's right of cross-examination of such counsellor in a civil or criminal proceeding if such counsellor testifies with such written consent.

Such confidential communications shall not be subject to discovery and shall be inadmissible in any criminal or civil proceeding without the prior written consent of the victim to whom the report, record, working paper or memorandum relates.