POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Polygraph test bill proposed to make sure victims feel heard

Jan 30, 2024, 12:00 PM | Updated: Feb 12, 2024, 11:56 am

Image of the steps leading to the Utah capitol....

FILE - The Utah Capitol is shown on March 3, 2023, in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)

(Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY —   A bill aimed at protecting victims of sexual assault from being forced to take a polygraph test has been proposed. 

Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, is sponsoring the bill. According to Romero, asking a victim to take a polygraph test gives them a sense that they are not being believed. 

Romero said sexual assaults are underreported. She wants to make sure there are no barriers to victims being heard.

“We want to make sure that when someone reports a sexual assault they know that they’re going to be believed and we’re doing everything we can to make sure we’re handling that situation with care,” said Romero.

According to Romero, the practice is becoming a problem in other parts of the country. However, there is a case here in Utah where the victim was given a polygraph test. 

“One of the victims of the counselor who was sexually abusing men in Provo, a government entity had asked him to do a polygraph test… it was inconclusive and so I don’t want situations like that to happen again,” said Romero. 

Polygraph test inaccuracy

Romero said the inaccuracy of these tests is also part of the problem.

“We’re finding out that exams, they don’t actually give accurate information, especially when you’re talking to a victim of sexual assault because of the trauma, so it could be problematic for them,” said the representative. 

According to KSL Legal Analyst Greg Skordas, because of their inaccuracy, polygraph tests are not admissible. 

“You couldn’t under any circumstance compel a crime victim to take a polygraph test. I mean it is just not going to happen a judge could order it,” said Skordas.”…there’s nothing in the law currently that would force them to do that.”

However, Romero still believes in the bill. 

“In Utah right now… there’s such a high standard that I’ve heard from prosecutors. It’s hard for them to prosecute many sexual assault cases because it’s [a] he said she [said] scenario,” said Romero. 

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Polygraph test bill proposed to make sure victims feel heard