May 2, 2013
Contact: Jennifer Perkins
A proposed law that provides a one-strike provision for sexual predators who brutally rape children is headed to the Texas Senate after passing unanimously out of the state’s House of Representatives today. When it is passed and signed into law, Texas will become the second state in the nation to have this tough child-protection measure on its books.
Dubbed Chelsea’s Law, HB 1748 enhances Jessica’s Law by providing a one-strike, life-without-parole sentence for adult offenders who violently sexually assault a child under 14. The law is named after Chelsea King, a 17-year-old high school student who was raped and murdered in 2010 by a man who had sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl and was released on parole after only five years.
The premise of Chelsea’s Law is the undisputed fact that the more violent a crime, the more likely a perpetrator is to repeat it – and that we shouldn’t give convicted child rapists the opportunity to attack another child.
In Texas, had Chelsea’s Law been on the books, it would have spared the 8-year-old victim of Jonathan Luther Nichols, who served seven years in prison for sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl. Chelsea’s Law also would have spared from rape a 10-year-old girl who was lured into a home with Beanie Baby toys by Billy Dwayne Geer, who was out of prison on parole after serving just three years for sexually assaulting another child.
“The people we’re looking to put behind bars for life are the worst of the worst,” said Brent King, Chelsea’s father. “These are predators whose acts were so heinous, they don’t deserve a second chance, because the risk to our children is simply too high.”
King, who championed Chelsea’s Law in California, founded the Chelsea’s Shield organization to push the legislation in all 50 U.S. states. Since the effort was officially launched in March, legislative efforts to pass the one-strike and other child-safety provisions have moved forward in Illinois and Ohio as well as Texas.
“Chelsea’s Law will protect Texas children from unspeakable evil,” said Rep. Dan Branch, who introduced the bill in the Texas House. “Never again should there be a second victim of these most vile offenders.”
Joining Branch in working to pass the legislation are Reps. Abel Herrero, Stefani Carter, Allen Fletcher, Sarah Davis, James White Tony Dale, Harvey Hilderbran and John Zerwas. The Senate is expected to take action on the legislation before it adjourns at the end of the month.