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California adopts ‘yes means yes’ sex assault rule

California Governor Jerry Brown.BeckROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images/File

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that makes California the first in the nation to define when ‘‘yes means yes’’ and adopt requirements for colleges to follow when investigating sexual assault reports.

Brown’s office announced that he signed the bill Sunday.

State lawmakers last month approved SB967 by Sen. Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, as states and universities across the U.S. are under pressure to change how they handle rape allegations.

De Leon has said the legislation will begin a shift in how college campuses in California prevent and investigate sexual assaults. Rather than using the refrain ‘‘no means no,’’ the definition of consent under the bill requires ‘‘an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.’’


The legislation says silence or lack of resistance does not constitute consent. Critics said it overreaches and sends universities into murky legal waters.