Sexual Assault

Attorney General Bonta Leads Coalition in Support of Increased Protections Against Sex Based Discrimination for All Students, Amidst Conservative Attacks on Title IX Final Rule

June 12, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta, New Jersey Attorney General Mathew J. Platkin, and Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle A. Henry today led a coalition of 16 attorneys general in filing a multistate amicus brief in the Western District of Louisiana in support of the U.S. Department of Education’s 2024 Title IX Final Rule amidst several lawsuits filed by Republican states attorneys general and groups seeking to undermine the rule’s enhanced protections. The final rule restores strong protections against sexual harassment and assault and reinforces critical protections for LGBTQ+ students. Today’s announcement comes shortly after the California Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss without prejudice its lawsuit against the Trump administration's Title IX Rule that severely weakened prohibitions against sex-based discrimination in light of the Biden administration’s issuance of the final rule. In today’s amicus brief, the multistate coalition stresses the importance of implementing the new rule nationwide to ensure that our schools operate free from sex discrimination.

“Title IX has been vital to providing safe and welcoming schools for all students since its enactment in 1972, and the Biden administration’s final rule enhances safeguards against discrimination and protections for all students,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Today’s brief is a testament to our commitment to ensure an equal education free from discrimination. Conservative attacks on policies that protect students across the nation will not stand. I will continue to use all of my resources to fight for these important protections for all students.”

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 requires that students receive an educational environment free from discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment and sexual violence. Following the Biden administration’s issuance of the final rule, several conservative attorneys general moved to quickly file lawsuits challenging the rule, and sought to stop the rule from going into effect on August 1, 2024. In today’s brief, the coalition states cite protecting students from discrimination on the basis of sex dramatically improves economic, psychological, health, employment, and educational outcomes for these individuals, yielding broad benefits without imposing significant costs on schools or compromising student privacy or safety. 

In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta is joined by the attorneys general of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the amicus brief is available here.

Attorney General Bonta to Congressional Leaders: Federal Data Privacy Law Should Set a Floor, Not a Ceiling

May 8, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

Rapidly changing technology requires responsive, flexible state privacy policy

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today led a multistate coalition of 15 attorneys general urging congressional leaders to remove preemption language in the current draft of the American Privacy Rights Act (APRA), a proposed federal data privacy bill. The preemption clause currently in the APRA would result in California’s landmark privacy law being replaced with weaker protections and would hamper the ability of California to adequately protect the privacy of its citizens in the future. In today’s letter, Attorney General Bonta and colleagues from across the country call on Congress to set a floor and not a ceiling with any federal privacy law, and to respect additional protections states provide or would provide in future state-level legislation.

“Federal action to protect Americans' privacy is essential, but not at the expense of the robust protections already in place in California and in states across the country. California is at the forefront of privacy protections and must retain the ability to respond to privacy concerns as tech rapidly innovates,” said Attorney General Bonta. “We urge Congress not to undercut the important protections that states have established; states must be able to protect their residents from evolving privacy threats.”

With the first comprehensive privacy law in the country, California has the strongest protections in the nation. Californians currently have robust protections and rights to manage and control the use of their data through the California Consumer Privacy Act and other state laws. Since California passed the first comprehensive privacy law in 2018, numerous states have followed suit. States play a critical role in flexibly adapting to real-world circumstances and have set minimum data privacy standards that have driven innovation, including in the adoption of the global privacy control, and have not impeded business or technology. 

In the letter, the attorneys general highlight the importance of current and future state privacy protections, and ask that any federal privacy framework leave room for states to legislate responsively to changes in technology and data collection practices, as states are better equipped to quickly adjust to the challenges presented by technological innovation that may elude federal oversight. As Congress considers adopting APRA, the coalition urges changes to the proposed law — the APRA in its current form would impair some existing state protections and hamper state efforts to keep up with and adapt laws to changing technology.

In sending today's letter, Attorney General Bonta was joined by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and the District of Columbia.   

Attorney General Bonta is committed to protecting the privacy rights of Californians:  

  • Last month, Attorney General Bonta and California Governor Gavin Newsom sent a letter to Congress urging congressional leaders to not include preemption language in the APRA.
  • Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Bonta, and the California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA) sent a joint letter to Congress opposing preemption language in similar proposed legislation.
  • In March, Attorney General Bonta joined a bipartisan multistate letter to the Federal Trade Commission expressing support for updates to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and advocating for further clarity for proposed rules.
  • In February Attorney General Bonta announced a settlement with DoorDash, resolving allegations that the company violated the CCPA and the California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA) by selling its California customers’ personal information without providing notice or an opportunity to opt out of that sale.
  • In January, Attorney General Bonta, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, and Senator Nancy Skinner introduced the California Children’s Data Privacy Act (AB 1949 Wicks), and the Protecting Our Kids from Social Media Addiction Act (SB 976 Skinner), landmark legislation seeking to protect youth online. These two bills would, respectively, limit the harms associated with social media addiction and provide more robust protections for kids’ data privacy.
  • Earlier this year, as part of ongoing efforts to enforce the CCPA, Attorney General Bonta announced an investigative sweep, and sent letters to businesses with popular streaming apps and devices, alleging that they fail to comply with the CCPA. The sweep focused on the compliance of streaming services with CCPA’s opt-out requirements for businesses that sell or share consumer personal information, including those that do not offer an easy mechanism for consumers who want to stop the sale of their data.  
  • In September 2023, Attorney General Bonta announced a $93 million settlement with Google resolving allegations that its location-privacy practices violated California consumer protection laws.

A copy of the letter can be found here

Attorney General Bonta Calls on Congress to Fund Civil Legal Assistance

April 29, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

 OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a broad, bipartisan coalition of 39 attorneys general in submitting letters to U.S. House and Senate leaders urging them to fund the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in full. LSC is funded by federal appropriation and is a critical compliment to state and other funding for legal aid. LSC provides civil legal services to low-income Americans across the United States.

“As the People’s Attorney, I share a commitment to the equal access of our justice system and understand the barriers that low-income families can face when trying to access legal services,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The Legal Services Corporation provides on-the-ground legal assistance to Americans experiencing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, including our country’s Native American communities, individuals with disabilities, domestic violence survivors, survivors of natural disasters, and undocumented folks. I sincerely urge Congress to support our neighbors and prioritize investment in The Legal Services Corporation.”

Since its establishment by Congress 50 years ago, LSC has provided civil legal services to low-income Americans across the United States who otherwise would not have access to such services. LSC is funded by federal appropriation and the amount of the investment will determine the number of Americans in need that LSC will be able to assist. Each year, LSC provides grants to local nonprofits who together provide legal services to low-income individuals throughout the United States from approximately 900 offices nationwide, stretching from urban centers to small towns. However, despite 94% of federal dollars going directly toward eligible nonprofits delivering civil legal aid, the need for legal assistance is outpacing LSC's funding.

In submitting the letters, Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of the District of Columbia, Georgia, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A copy of the letters can be found here, and here

Attorney General Bonta Announces Citrus Heights Sex Offender Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison for Possession of Child Pornography

April 11, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Bonta today announced 41-year-old Christopher Campbell was sentenced to 14 years in prison for possession of child pornography after he was arrested during an undercover operation to combat child sexual predators within Sacramento County. On February 27, 2023, the California Department of Justice (DOJ) Human Trafficking and Sexual Predator Apprehension Team (HT/SPAT), along with Homeland Security Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, assisted the Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force in the joint operation. The United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California prosecuted the case.

“Let this conviction serve as a warning to those who harm children: You will be held accountable,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Our office is fighting on behalf of the most vulnerable Californians in the field and in the courtroom. I am thankful for the hard work of our Special Agents during this operation and all our partners who work collaboratively with our regional Human Trafficking and Sexual Predator Apprehension teams throughout the state. When we work together, we get results.”

During the operation, Campbell contacted an undercover HT/SPAT agent to engage in sexual misconduct. It was discovered that Campbell was a registered sex offender, and a search warrant revealed that Campbell had approximately 517 images and 45 videos of child pornography on his iPad and cellphone. Law enforcement also searched Campbell’s cloud storage account, which contained approximately 169 videos of child pornography, including depictions of toddlers and other minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. On April 9, 2024, Campbell was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography. Campbell was subject to an enhanced statutory penalty for possession of child pornography because he had a prior conviction relating to sexual abuse involving a minor.

The mission of the HT/SPAT program is to disrupt and dismantle violent human trafficking and child exploitation organizations through a comprehensive, collaborative, and statewide response. This program is committed to using a victim-centered approach to aggressively investigate, identify, and recover victims of the brutal crime of forced labor and sexual exploitation for profit or gain by human traffickers and sexual predators. The HT/SPAT program works closely with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to identify emerging human trafficking trends in order to dismantle domestic and transnational criminal organizations. This program educates communities by providing tools on how to identify human trafficking and works with non-governmental organizations to provide resources and services to victims and survivors.

Attorney General Bonta Proposes COPPA Update: Children’s Private Online Information Must Be Protected

March 11, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

Updates to COPPA need to go further to protect children’s online data 

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today, in response to the Federal Trade Comission's (FTC) notice of proposed rulemaking, joined a bipartisan multistate letter to the FTC proposing updates to regulations implementing the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). In the letter, the attorneys general express support for updates to COPPA and advocate for further clarity and specification for proposed rules.

“The Federal Trade Commission’s proposed rule would strengthen our ability to enforce restrictions on companies selling children’s data and protect consumers who seek to manage what information websites can collect from kids,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Together with a broad bipartisan coalition from across the country, I support this effort and look forward to working collaboratively with the FTC to keep protecting children’s privacy.”

COPPA requires operators of websites and online services that are either directed to children under 13, or that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information from children under 13, to provide notice to parents and obtain parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children. 

The proposed rule would update COPPA by:

  • Requiring separate “opt-in” consent for targeted advertising: The proposed new rule would require separate notice and parental consent before an operator can disclose children’s information to third parties, including third-party advertisers.
  • Clarifying the “mixed audience” category:  There currently is ambiguity about when child-directed websites must provide COPPA protections to all users and when they may screen users for age and only provide COPPA protections to users who self-identify as under 13 years old. The FTC proposes to clarify this distinction by providing a new definition of “mixed audience."
  • Adding “biometric identifiers” to the definition of “personal information”: The FTC proposes to expand the definition of “personal information” under COPPA to include biometric identifiers, like fingerprints or handprints, retina and iris patterns, genetic data, or data derived from voice, gait, or facial data.
  • Limits on the “support for the internal operations” exception: Operators may currently collect persistent identifiers without first obtaining parental consent under an exception that permits “support for the internal operations of the website or online service.” The FTC proposes adding new requirements and disclosures for operators who rely on this exception.
  • New limits on nudging kids to stay online: The FTC proposes adding new limitations on operators’ use of personal information to prompt or encourage children to use their service more.
  • COPPA and schools: The FTC seeks to permit schools and school districts to provide consent for the collection, use, and disclosure of children’s personal information, but limit that consent to use for educational rather than commercial purposes.
  • Data security, retention, and deletion: The FTC proposes strengthening data security, retention, and deletion requirements. For example, the FTC proposes requiring disclosure of data retention policies, and prohibiting operators from using retained information for any secondary purpose.

In the letter, the attorneys general support proposed updates to the COPPA Rule and respond to certain issues raised by the FTC, including how to define “personal information” as it relates to children and how to obtain parental consent to use children’s personal information in connection with advertising. The letter also advocates for limiting potential exemptions being considered by the FTC and addresses proposals regarding limitations on the use of personal information in ways that could be harmful to children, such as nudging kids to stay online longer.

Attorney General Bonta is committed to protecting children online. In October 2023, Attorney General Bonta co-led a bipartisan coalition of 33 attorneys general in filing a federal lawsuit against Meta Platforms, alleging that Meta, among other things, designed and deployed harmful features on Instagram and Facebook that addict children and teens to their mental and physical detriment. In November 2023, Attorney General Bonta announced the public release of a largely unredacted copy of the federal complaint against Meta. The removal of the redactions provides additional context for the misconduct that the attorneys general allege.

In March 2023, Attorney General Bonta as part of a bipartisan multistate coalition, filed an amicus brief supporting efforts to compel TikTok to produce subpoenaed materials and evidence as part of ongoing nationwide investigations into the company’s role in the growing youth mental health crisis. In December 2023, Attorney General Bonta joined a multistate amicus brief in Murthy v. Missouri supporting the right of the federal government to communicate with social media companies about matters of public concern. In January 2024, Attorney General Rob Bonta, Senator Nancy Skinner, and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks introduced the Protecting Youth from Social Media Addiction Act (SB 976), and the California Children’s Data Privacy Act (AB 1949), landmark legislation seeking to protect youth online.

In submitting today’s letter, Attorney General Bonta is joined by the attorneys general of Oregon, Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

A copy of the multistate letter is available here.

Attorney General Bonta Announces Seven Arrests as Part of Sexual Predator Apprehension Operation in Kern County

January 29, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

BAKERSFIELD — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the arrests of seven suspects as part of a multiagency, two-day sexual predator apprehension operation in Kern County. The operation targeted adults seeking to sexually exploit children by using undercover agents and detectives posing as minors offering sex for pay on online websites commonly used by victims of sex trafficking. These same websites are commonly accessed by predators to pay and meet victims for sex acts. Additionally, agents and officers rescued three sex trafficking victims who were with the suspects arrested. The victims were provided support through victims services.   

“Sexual exploitation and the human trafficking of children will not be tolerated in California, period,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “I established DOJ’s Human Trafficking and Sexual Predator Apprehension Team to ensure that my office could provide targeted and aggressive support to help end this modern-day form of slavery in our state. I am thankful to all our partners for their work in this operation, as well our California DOJ agents who have made hundreds of arrests and helped countless victims since starting this work in 2021. We will continue to keep at it, every day, as one person exploited is one too many.”   

“Maintaining a strong law enforcement presence in social media dating apps, and physical locations where human trafficking is known to occur is an important element of suppressing human trafficking,” said Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer. “The success of this operation shows the commitment of law enforcement to combating human trafficking and child exploitation and offers a glimpse into how prevalent these horrific crimes are within our state.”      

The two-day operation, which concluded on Wednesday, involved the collaboration of the California Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking and Sexual Predator Apprehension Team, Homeland Security Investigations, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, the Bakersfield Police Department, investigators from the Kern County District’s Attorney Office, and the California Department of Corrections Parole Division. The suspects were taken into custody and face charges by the Kern County District Attorney’s Office of pimping, pandering, human trafficking of a minor, contacting a minor for the purpose of committing a felony, and meeting with a minor for the purpose of committing a lewd act.

Attorney General Bonta launched DOJ’s Human Trafficking and Sexual Predator Apprehension Teams in June 2021. These teams, led by California Department of Justice, are located throughout the state including the Central Valley, Sacramento, and San Diego. The teams have taken significant action to support law enforcement partners in disrupting and dismantling human trafficking and the criminal exploitation of children.

Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery where perpetrators profit from the control and exploitation of men, women, and children for sex or labor through force, fraud, or coercion. Human trafficking does not require movement across borders. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there were more than 1,300 human trafficking cases reported in California in 2020 — more than any other state in the nation. In California, human trafficking is prevalent in the hospitality, commercial sex, domestic work, and construction industries. Victims of human trafficking are also found among migrant and seasonal agricultural workers, providers of residential care, and in California’s garment sector. 

If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 to access help and services. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. Additional information and resources to support survivors of human trafficking are available here

It is important to note that a criminal complaint contains charges that are only allegations against a person. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty.

 

 

Ahead of the New Year, Attorney General Bonta Highlights DOJ’s Work to Protect and Defend California’s People and Resources in 2023

December 29, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today highlighted the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) efforts to protect and defend the people and resources of California over the past year. In 2023, DOJ worked to improve the lives of Californians by protecting public health and safety and advancing justice for all by enforcing and defending laws touching nearly all facets of life, including healthcare, the environment, housing, consumer protection, civil rights, and criminal justice.

“At the California Department of Justice, 2023 was a year of accountability: We took bold action to hold polluters, corporate giants, and bad actors accountable, and worked every day to build stronger, safer communities while working proactively to find solutions to some of the largest problems facing Californians, from gun violence to threats to our health and safety,” said Attorney General Bonta. “I’m proud of the nearly 6,000 DOJ employees who work day in and day out on behalf of the people of California, and all that we have accomplished together. As we look ahead to 2024, we will continue to advance Californians' fundamental rights, work toward environmental and economic justice, hold bad actors accountable, and beyond.” 

KEY ACTIONS 

FENTANYL CRACKDOWN: Joined the FAST task force to address fentanyl trafficking from the U.S. and Mexico border and continued ongoing efforts to remove fentanyl from our streets, through arrests and seizures 

COMBATTING RETAIL CRIME: Announced a first-of-its-kind agreement between retailers and online marketplaces to address retail crime, and continued ongoing efforts to dismantle retail theft rings

TACKLING THE HOUSING CRISIS: Made way for the development of thousands of potential additional units of housing by putting local governments on notice for violating state housing laws 

TAKING ON BIG TECH: Filed a lawsuit against Meta to protect youth online

FIGHTING GUN VIOLENCE: Unveiled the Office of Gun Violence Prevention’s first-ever data report highlighting California’s successes in preventing gun violence, and shining light further areas for improvement

DEFENDING REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Announced a groundbreaking lawsuit against a national anti-abortion group and a chain of five crisis pregnancy centers for using misleading claims to lure in and deceive pregnant people  

CLIMATE ACTION: Filed a groundbreaking lawsuit against Big Oil for engaging in a decades-long campaign of deception about the climate harms of their products

PROTECTING CONSUMERS: Sponsored successful legislation to protect Californians’ pocketbooks by banning hidden fees

SAFEGUARDING PUBLIC HEALTH: Secured $462 million settlement with JUUL for fueling the youth tobacco crisis

Fighting Crime and Supporting Victims and Survivors: Attorney General Bonta worked together with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to protect California’s public safety by cracking down on theft and illegal narcotics, dismantling organized criminal activity, and holding bad actors accountable. The Attorney General announced major law enforcement operations across the state, from tackling human trafficking in San Mateo County and San Diego, to dismantling criminal organizations in Los AngelesStockton, and Fresno. The Attorney General also stepped-up efforts to target sexual predators while protecting victims and survivors in their right to restitution and to see their traffickers held accountable.

A key focus of 2023 was addressing organized retail crime by bringing charges against an organized smash and grab group, charging a group responsible for cargo thefts targeting Microsoft products, and making arrests of an organized retail crime group targeting Apple Stores. Attorney General Bonta went a step further this year by announcing a first-of-its-kind agreement between retailers and online marketplaces to address retail crime.

Attorney General Bonta made combatting the fentanyl crisis a top priority. Since April 2022, the California DOJ has seized approximately 10,834,302 fentanyl pills, 2,951 pounds of powder, and made over 280 arrests related to fentanyl. In addition, DOJ joined the Fentanyl Abatement and Suppression Team (FAST)  to address fentanyl trafficking from the U.S. and Mexico border and the San Francisco task force to address fentanyl trafficking in the Bay Area. The Attorney General provided critical support to Placer County, Fresno and Merced County through the Bureau of Investigation to arrest and apprehend fentanyl dealers and seize fentanyl from communities.  

In 2023, California Attorney General Bonta released the 2022 Hate Crime in California Report, and amid an alarming rise in hate crimes highlighted resources to combat hate, as well as a new law enforcement bulletin to assist law enforcement in combatting hate crimes. The Attorney General continued to engage with local leaders through hate crime roundtables in BakersfieldFresnoAnaheim and Irvine

Attorney General Bonta sent a strong message that those who commit fraud will be caught and pay for their crime. Numerous charges were brought against individuals for embezzlement, tax evasion, and recycling fraud. The Attorney General announced the establishment of the first-ever Post-Conviction Justice Unit, addressed illegal cannabis and promoted the awareness of the missing and murdered indigenous peoples’ crisis.

Tackling California's Housing Crisis: As California continued to face a housing shortage and affordability crisis of epic proportions, Attorney General Bonta’s Housing Justice Team ramped up its enforcement of state housing production, consumer protection, and housing discrimination laws, putting local governments from Huntington Beach and Coronado, to San Bernardino and Elk Grove on notice for violations of state housing laws. The Attorney General also worked to enforce obligations under state law, like the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), requiring local governments to plan and zone for more housing. 

As housing costs continue to overly burden household budgets, Attorney General Bonta fought to protect tenants’ and homeowners’ rights and prevent housing discrimination. Attorney General Bonta reminded California tenants of their rights and protections under state law, including limits on rent increases, announced statewide guidance to address Crime-Free Housing policies that disproportionally discriminate against people of color, survivors of domestic violence, people with disabilities, and justice-involved individuals, and brought financial relief to tenants who endured illegal rent increases and  evictions by enforcing the Tenant Protection Act against Green Valley Corporation

Protecting Reproductive Freedom and the Public Health: This year, Attorney General Bonta continued to fiercely defend and protect the reproductive freedom and liberties of Californians and people across the nation. In September, he sued a national anti-abortion group and a chain of five crisis pregnancy centers for using false claims to lure in pregnant patients and mislead them. He announced the results of investigations into anti-implicit bias training for pregnancy care providers, and into reproductive healthcare access in county jails. Emboldened by the overturning of Roe v. Wade, anti-abortion states focused their onslaught on the FDA's decades-old approval of mifepristone, widely used for medication abortion. From joining forces with states across the nation on briefs in the Fifth Circuit appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court, to publicly countering the lies and empty rhetoric of anti-mifepristone forces and reminding Californians of the laws that protect their access to medication abortion and other reproductive care, Attorney General Bonta fought the partisan attacks on mifepristone aggressively on every front and with every tool at his disposal. He also led nationwide fights to push for increased access to birth control coverage, protect Americans’ access to abortions during life-threatening medical emergencies, and support stronger protections for reproductive health data privacy.

Attorney General Bonta fought for Californians’ rights to affordable, equitable healthcare and protected Californians against threats to the public health. He sued the nation's largest insulin makers and pharmacy benefit managers for driving up the cost of the lifesaving drug by leveraging their market power to unlawfully overcharge patients, and as Californians grappled with the ongoing fallout from the opioid epidemic, secured billions of dollars in nationwide settlements with pharmacies CVS and Walgreens and manufacturers Allergan and Teva for their role in the opioid crisis. The settlements are expected to bring in much needed funding to address the needs of California's communities. He also worked to protect the public – particularly youth and vulnerable populations – from harmful and addictive tobacco products by taking legal action against two California online retailers of e-cigarettes over violations of state and federal laws, and by securing a $462 million multistate settlement agreement with electronic cigarette maker, JUUL, Labs, Inc. that prohibits the company from targeting youth in its advertising and promotion.

Taking on Corporate Polluters and Protecting the Environment: In 2023, the Attorney General took on corporate polluters and fought to protect the health and safety of California communities through innovative settlements and major lawsuits. In September, Attorney General Bonta filed a landmark lawsuit against five of the largest oil and gas companies and a trade association for engaging in a decades-long campaign of deception about the climate harms of their products. He announced a settlement with Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) over misleading, unqualified environmental marketing claims the company made that natural gas is “renewable,” and reached settlements with Kaiser for improper hazardous waste disposal, as well as with several owners and operators of gas stations for violating state environmental laws

He continued his ongoing work to combat the harmful effects of PFAS, calling for 3M and Dupont to pay more for contaminating Americans’ drinking water supply with these toxic forever chemicals, and issuing an enforcement advisory letter to manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of food packaging and cookware, reminding them of their obligations under Assembly Bill 1200, which restricts the presence of PFAS in food packaging and imposes labeling disclosure requirements for cookware, as well as a consumer alert with tips for reducing PFAS exposures.

Recognizing that certain communities endure a disproportionate share of environmental pollution, Attorney General Bonta’s Bureau of Environmental Justice sent CEQA letters, reached innovative settlements, and issued guidance to address historic and ongoing inequities in land use decisions and beyond. In September, he announced a settlement with the Port of Oakland and Eagle Rock Aggregates, securing binding commitments to mitigate the Eagle Rock project’s air quality impacts and provide other benefits for West Oakland residents,  raised serious legal concerns about the environmental and housing impacts of a proposed warehouse development plan in the Inland Valley, and secured settlements that reduce wildfire ignition and evacuation risks and conserve sensitive ecosystems. He also issued guidance to local governments on promoting environmental justice for marginalized communities across California. 

Addressing Gun Violence: Attorney General Bonta continued his leadership with a strong, statewide effort to put an end to gun violence. He took action to provide crucial data necessary to continue our fight against gun violence by securing a court decision enabling vital data sharing with gun violence researchers, and releasing two inaugural reports out of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention. The first report focused on gun violence in California highlighted California’s successes in preventing gun violence and shined a light on successful strategies and further areas for improvement. The second report focused on domestic violence and showed that California has made substantial long-term progress in reducing the incidence of domestic violence involving firearms but it increased during the pandemic. It emphasized the importance of Domestic Violence Restraining Orders for survivors’ safety and gun violence prevention. 

The Attorney General worked on the ground to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals, and announced the 2022 APPS report. He supported stronger federal firearm laws and announced the seizure of illegal weapons in Visalia and Los Angeles. Attorney General Bonta also fought to defend California’s gun laws by supporting the large capacity magazine ban, the assault weapons banage-based firearm restrictions, the Unsafe Handgun Act, and urging the Supreme Court to uphold protections for survivors of abuse against gun violence. Attorney General Bonta's sponsored legislation, Senate Bill 2, which strengthens California’s concealed carry weapons restrictions was signed into law.

Safeguarding the Civil Rights of All: Throughout the year, Attorney General Bonta worked tirelessly to protect the civil rights of people in California and across the country. Amidst unprecedented attacks on the LGBTQ+ community across the nation, Attorney General Bonta stood up for the rights of LGBTQ+ people to live, work, and pursue education free from discrimination: from fighting forced outing policies in Chino Valley and across the state to challenging bans on inclusive curricula and textbooks in classrooms. Outside of California, the Attorney General stood up against Idaho legislation undermining transgender students’ constitutional rights, and joined multiple amicus briefs in support of gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

The Attorney General worked to the safeguard Californians’ civil rights through stipulated judgements with Kern County addressing free-speech violations, and to reform the Vallejo Police Department’s policies and practices; opened civil rights investigations into the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office and Antioch Police Department; and through the Racial Justice Bureau, supported the work of the Reparations Task Force in issuing its historic final report on the harms of slavery and systemic discrimination of African Americans. He took action to protect workers, launching an historic investigation into gender discrimination in the National Football League, fought for the rights of transportation workers, and immigrant children. He also took action to uphold voter rights by opening an investigation into Butte County’s redistricting process, and standing up in court for disenfranchised persons.

Protecting Consumers, Preserving Competition and Taking on Bad Corporate Actors: In 2023, Attorney General Bonta fought to protect consumers and build a more fair and competitive economy. The Attorney General aggressively enforced state and federal antitrust laws, joining US DOJ in a lawsuit to challenge the anticompetitive merger of Spirit and JetBlue, continuing his prosecution of Amazon for blocking price competition, and joining a lawsuit against Agri Stats for facilitating meat processors’ unlawful increase on the prices Californians pay for chicken, pork, and turkey.

In this digital age, Attorney General Bonta worked aggressively to protect youth and California families online. He co-led a bipartisan coalition of 33 attorneys general in filing a lawsuit against Meta for designing and deploying harmful features on Instagram and Facebook that addict children and teens to their mental and physical detriment, and later celebrated the release of a damning unredacted complaint in that case. He also continued his defense of California’s Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, a California law requiring companies to prioritize the online privacy, safety, and well-being of children over commercial interests, and filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court defending the right of government entities to engage with social media companies to protect the public. 

Attorney General Bonta also secured settlements and sponsored legislation to protect hardworking California families and their pocketbooks. In 2023, he sponsored successful legislation to ban hidden fees as well as legislation to compensate victims of consumer protection violations. He announced a $93 million settlement against Google regarding its location-privacy practices, and a $700 million settlement with Google for monopolizing Android App Distribution.   

Protecting California’s Elders and Medi-Cal Program: In 2023, Attorney General Bonta worked to protect the safety and well-being of California's elder and dependent adults by bringing legal action against bad actors who committed neglectabuse and fraud against them. He issued a consumer alert, as well as new guidance for mandated reporters who play a critical role in safeguarding this vulnerable population. Attorney General Bonta also protected the integrity of the state's Medi-Cal program by carrying out investigations, arrests, and prosecutions against medical providers who illegally defrauded Medi-Cal. In August, he announced the arrest of a Santa Clara County doctor for an alleged illegal prescription scheme and secured the sentencing of a Southern California doctor for prescribing medically unnecessary medications. He also secured an over $215 million settlement against a national healthcare company for allegedly falsely reporting higher prescription drug costs; secured a nearly $11.4 million settlement with the owner of one of California’s largest chains of pain management clinics; and announced a $3.8 million settlement against a Riverside nursing facility accused of paying illegal kickbacks to doctors.

These ongoing efforts are made possible not only by partners at the federal, state, and local level, but by the hard work and dedication of the thousands of people employed at DOJ. They include lawyers, special agents, researchers, information technology technicians, program analysts, legal secretaries, field representatives, scientists, and more. Additional information about the work done at the California Department of Justice is available here. More information on career opportunities is available here.

Attorney General Bonta Announces Applications Are Now Open for the Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Grant Program

December 6, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

 

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced that applications are now being accepted for the Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Grant Program. This program is administered by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and provides funding to assist local law enforcement agencies in submitting and DNA testing of sexual assault evidence. The Budget Act of 2021 appropriated $4 million in grant funding to assist law enforcement agencies statewide.

“This grant is a step forward in our fight against sexual assault in California,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “It supports and honors the courageous individuals who come forward about their experiences of sexual assault and go through the necessary steps to provide evidence. I am grateful for the valuable contributions of our partners across the state in this critical battle. Funds from the Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Grant will assist them in protecting the vulnerable and bringing perpetrators to justice.”

Interested law enforcement agencies are encouraged to learn more about the grant program, the eligibility criteria, and the Request for Applications (RFA) process. This RFA is a non-competitive application process that is reimbursing eligible agencies for costs incurred during the submission and testing process. Grant funds are not designed to sustain a project but are intended to supplement existing funds to help agencies submit and test sexual assault evidence.

Eligible agencies must submit a completed application to DOJ by February 5, 2024. All grant applications must be emailed to SAESG@doj.ca.gov by 5:00 PM (PDT). No late applications will be accepted. 

A complete application package includes the following:

  • Application Cover Sheet (Word Document)
  • Letter of Intent (Word Document)
  • Project Budget (Excel)

A copy of the RFA is available for download here.  

Agencies who are interested in applying for funds should request amounts based on their need. The grant period for the use of these funds will begin on or around March 1, 2024 and will end March 1, 2027. Questions concerning the application process may be directed to the DOJ at SAESG@doj.ca.gov. See Sexual Assault Evidence Submission Grant Program website for more information.

 

 

Attorney General Bonta Announces 19 Arrests as Part of Child Sexual Predator Apprehension Operation in Kings County

December 5, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

 

FRESNO — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the arrests of 19 suspects as part of a three-day multiagency operation that targeted child predators. Operation “White Elephant” targeted adults seeking to sexually exploit children and victims of sex trafficking, using undercover agents and detectives posing as minors offering sex for pay on applications and websites commonly used by predators.

“In California, we do not tolerate the sexual exploitation and human trafficking of children,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “To combat this modern-day form of slavery, I established the Human Trafficking and Sexual Predator Apprehension Team within the Department of Justice. This specialized team provides targeted support and taking aggressive measures to put an end to these heinous crimes in our state. I want to express my gratitude to all our partners who have collaborated with us in this important operation. Our fight against sexual exploitation and human trafficking will not waver because even one person being exploited is one too many. Together, we can create a safer future for all vulnerable individuals who deserve protection, freedom, and justice.”

“Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation is a growing issue, requiring vigilance and constant attention,” said King County Sheriff David Robinson. “It can take place in any community, regardless of the community’s size or location.” 

The operation lasted from November 29 and December 1, 2023, and included special agents from the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Bureau of Investigation, the Human Trafficking and Sexual Predator Apprehension Team, along with the agents, officers and deputies from Kings County Sheriff's Office, Department of Homeland Security Investigations, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hanford Police Department, Lemoore Police Department, and Corcoran Police Department. 

Subjects were booked into the Kings County and Tulare County Jails on the charges of Penal Code (PC) 288.2(a)(2)-sending harmful material to seduce a minor, PC 288.3-communicating with a minor for the purposes of sex, PC 288.4-meeting with a minor for the purpose of sex and PC 311.4(b)-enticing a minor to produce pornography.  The Kings County and Tulare County District Attorney's Offices will be prosecuting the cases.

If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 to access help and services. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. Additional information and resources to support survivors of human trafficking are available here

 

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Legislation To Promote Statewide Tracking of DNA Evidence

February 25, 2016
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced her sponsorship of two bills which will improve statewide tracking of forensic evidence through the adoption of technology.  The legislative package directs law enforcement to take advantage of two secure databases operated by the California Department of Justice: the CODIS Hit Outcome Project (CHOP), which enables agencies to share confidential information about the outcomes of DNA matches; and the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Tracking (SAFE-T) database, which will enable the state to track the collection and processing of sexual assault evidence kits.

“DNA evidence is a tool that provides law enforcement with critical evidence to bring justice to sexual assault victims,” said Attorney General Harris.  “By taking full advantage of the state’s existing forensic tracking technologies, these bills will bolster and modernize law enforcement efforts to solve sexual assault crimes.”

AB 1848 by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) will direct all local law enforcement agencies to use a second tracking system within the California Department of Justice, the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Tracking (SAFE-T) tool.  This database was specifically designed by the Attorney General’s Bureau of Forensic Services to allow local law enforcement agencies to log and track the status of all so-called “rape kits” collected from victims of sexual assault.  The bill will include annual reporting to the state on metrics relating to how many kits were collected and how many kits were indeed analyzed by a DNA lab.  In cases where local agencies decide not to test a kit, they will be required to provide a reason.

“Survivors of sexual assault who are submitting sexual assault evidence kits aren’t getting the answers they need and deserve,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco). “To get at the crux of the backlog problem, we need to know how many kits are collected each year, and if they’re not analyzed, we need to know why.  This data will help shed a light on what areas of law enforcement need to change and whether or not they need more resources to get the job done. I look forward to working with Attorney General Harris on this crucial effort.”

SB 1079 by Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) will achieve universal use the state’s CODIS Hit Outcome Project (CHOP) database.  This advanced technological database helps streamline criminal casework and enables law enforcement agencies to confidentially share information on the outcomes of DNA matches when their own evidence comes back with a positive match to the same known perpetrator.  The database also features a tracking system that assists local agencies in tracking the progress of a DNA hit once crime scene forensic evidence has been matched against a sample in the national database.  Universal adoption of CHOP will ensure that California’s law enforcement agencies are able to fully leverage this technology to promote public safety.

“My bill ensures that local agencies use cold hit information to its full potential for case investigations. Proper use of a statewide system will mean investigations will be more efficient, repeat offenders will be found in the system, and rape kits will be accurately tracked, among other benefits,” said State Senator Glazer (D-Orinda).

Both CHOP and SAFE-T are secure, web-based databases made available to local law enforcement agencies free of charge.  The California Department of Justice, which manages the state’s DNA Data Bank Program, created CHOP in 2009.  SAFE-T was created in 2015 in part as a response to recommendations from a report by the State Auditor.  When evidence taken from a sexual assault kit is analyzed and matched to a sample in CODIS, the SAFE-T profile is automatically linked to a database entry in CHOP. 

In California, law enforcement collects DNA samples from all felony offenders and arrestees, which are submitted into the CODIS database.  When a DNA sample is taken from a crime scene involving an unidentified suspect, the database is checked for possible matches.  In January 2012, Attorney General Harris announced that, for the first time ever, the backlog of untested DNA evidence in state labs had been eliminated. Since that time, the Department’s Bureau of Forensic Services has assisted counties in clearing their own backlogs.

In April 2014, the Attorney General’s innovative RADS program received the United States Department of Justice’s Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services, and in 2015 the program was awarded a $1.6 million grant to test sexual assault evidence kits at local laboratories.