Halle Berry describes daughter's harassment terror
Actress Halle Berry testifies before the Assembly Committee on Public Safety at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., for a bill that would limit the ability of paparazzi to photograph children of celebrities and public figures on Tuesday, June 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — With dozens of journalists tailing her every move, Academy Award-winner Halle Berry appeared at the California Capitol on Tuesday to testify for a bill that would limit the ability of paparazzi to photograph the children of celebrities and public figures.
"My daughter doesn't want to go to school because she knows 'the men' are watching for her," the actor told the Assembly Committee on Public Safety. "They jump out of the bushes and from behind cars and who knows where else, besieging these children just to get a photo."
Berry, who is pregnant, said she was speaking in favor of the anti-harassment bill by Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, as a "mother of a daughter and the baby boy in my belly."
Actress Halle Berry listens to questions as she testifies before the Assembly Committee on Public Safety for a bill that would limit the ability of paparazzi to photograph children of celebrities and public figures, on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)
"If it passes, the quality of my life and my children's lives will be dramatically changed," she said.
The committee obliged, and the bill now goes to the Assembly Judiciary Committee, where supporters promised to clarify language that would protect the First Amendments rights of journalists gathering news.
"It's a broad definition to harass," Assembly Member Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, said in calling for the explanation.
The bill would change the definition of harassment to include photographing or recording a child without the permission of a legal guardian by following the child or guardian's activities or by lying in wait.
It also increases the penalties for people convicted of such behavior. Anyone convicted of a first offense could spend between 10 days and a year in jail. It also allows civil lawsuits to be filed.