In September, Governor Bob McDonnell signed six bills to help fight sex crimes against children. The most severe law, House Bill 973, would impose a mandatory life sentence on an adult offender convicted of Virginia’s most serious sex crimes, where the victim was a child aged 12 or under.
According to Governor McDonnell, “If you’ve got a problem, go get counseling and go get treatment because if you’re caught and convicted it’s one strike and you’re out and you’re going to go to jail for life because we have to protect the most vulnerable citizens in society.”
Four of the six bills were patroned/co-patroned by Delegate Rob Bell, including House Bill 970, which was prompted by the recent scandal at Penn State University and requires that university employees report child abuse. House Bill 963 and House Bill 964 address solicitation to create pornography and the display of explicit videos to children.
Over the last two years in Virginia there have been 228 adults convicted of these heinous crimes, and only 10 cases have resulted in life sentences. The median sentence for sex offenders prior to this law was 13 years. The Virginia Sheriffs support tough legislation targeting sex offenders who prey on children and believe these laws will help provide greater protection to victims of sexual abuse.