AUSTIN (AP) — New tools for prosecutors in cases of sexual assault against children are advancing through the state Capitol.

Under a bill approved by the Senate on Tuesday, evidence of prior similar offenses would become admissible in court.

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Current rules allow prosecutors to introduce only evidence of prior assaults against the same victim.

The new rules would allow evidence of prior attacks on other victims. But the rules would apply only when the victim is under 17.

Republican Sen. Joan Huffman of Houston said her bill would align state rules with policies used in federal court. She is a former judge in felony criminal cases.

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Democratic Sen. Royce West of Dallas noted that the new rules would still leave some discretion to judges. He has served as a prosecutor and defense lawyer.

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