Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Sword and a Rose and a Cape

The mysterious Not Larry Sabato is the host for this week's Carnival of the Virginia Bloggers. This, the fifth in the series, shows the wide range of views and topics covered by bloggers who live in, or write about, Virginia. Not Larry Sabato chose my article on Tom DeLay, "If I Had a Hammer," as the best representation of my work for the week.

Previous Virginia blogger carnivals have been hosted by Kenton Ngo, Norm Leahy, Brian Patton, and Chad Dotson.

Future carnivals will be hosted at Too Conservative (October 10), northerncrown (October 17), Sophistpundit (October 24), and River City Rapids (October 31).

(If you're confused about the relation of this blog entry's headline and the topic, click the headline's hyperlink.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Crime Commission Chair Soft on Child Sexual Abuse
Del. Albo Introduces Bill Gutting Protections for Children

RICHMOND, VA -- January 14, 2004 -- Virginia state delegate David Albo (Springfield) proposed legislation yesterday to drastically reduce penalties for sexually abusing children in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Albo, as chairman of Virginia’s Crime Commission, proposed legislation to lower penalties for engaging in “sexual intercourse, sodomy, or fondling” a child. Penalties for these crimes would be reduced to the equivalent of tampering with cable television service (18.2-165.1, class 6 felony) and would be classified as a lesser offense than stealing chickens (18.2-97, class 5 felony).

Albo’s bill includes the following provisions:

* Sexual intercourse with a child age 0-18 would become a Class 6 felony, punishable by a fine or a maximum of 5 years in prison. It is currently punishable as Rape (unclassified felony, 5 years-Life), Incest (Class 3 felony, 5-20 years) or as Carnal knowledge (Class 4 felony, 2-10 years).

* Sodomizing a child age 0-18 would become a Class 6 felony, punishable by a fine to five years (see 18.2-10 of the Virginia Code for sentencing ranges). It is currently classified under Crimes against nature (18.2-361) as a Class 3 felony, punishable by from 5 to 20 years.

* Having sexual intercourse with a minor who is being held in a local or state correctional or juvenile detention facility would be made a Class 1 misdemeanor (Albo bill, 18.2-387.1).

What Possible Reason?

What possible reason could Delegate Albo have for attempting such a sweeping rollback of legal protections for children? According to Grier Weeks, executive director of the National Association to PROTECT Children (PROTECT), Albo's legislation is typical of elected officials who view child sexual abuse as “a social disease, not a crime.”

“If you look at the bill carefully, you'll see that these get out of jail free passes are not being offered to all criminals,” says Weeks. “This bill says that if a child molester simply proposes sex with a neighbor’s child, that’s a crime and it should be 1-10 years. But if that same criminal actually rapes or sodomizes his own niece or his student or a player on his ballteam, that’s a social problem and it's okay to punish it with a fine.”

In Virginia, over 90% of all sex crimes committed against children are perpetrated by adults the child knows, according to data published by the Virginia Department of State Police (“Crime in Virginia”, Jan.-Dec. 2002)

PROTECT was in Richmond Monday and Tuesday to seek support in the legislature for tougher penalties for criminals who betray a child's or a family’s trust to molest children. PROTECT is seeking enhanced penalties for child molesters who abuse their position of trust or authority-including parents, step-parents, clergy, teachers and coaches. Current law rewards these perpetrators and Albo's bill would make it far worse.

“Albo took the weakest law protecting kids, Indecent liberties, and used it as a trash can to dump every rotten thing you can do to a kid into. If he wants to use the Crime Commission to do this kind of thing, he should pick on someone his own size and leave child crime victims alone.”

Leadership says it will fix bill, Chairman Albo stands behind it

PROTECT spoke Tuesday with members of the House and Senate Courts leadership who acknowledged serious problems with Albo's bill and pledged to remove preferential treatment for adults who abuse positions of trust and authority in committee. Commission Chair Albo, however, refused to meet with PROTECT outside the Commission meeting and said he stood by the new reduced penalties. Albo claimed that since tougher penalties for the same crimes are still on the books (Rape, Incest, Carnal Knowledge) elsewhere, his bill would simply give prosecutors more options.

“Using that logic, we're waiting to see if Mr. Albo is going to introduce a Class 6 Felony homicide law or a misdemeanor drug dealing law next,” said Weeks.

PROTECT is a national membership association with members in 48 states and 6 countrie