The Massachusetts Judiciary Committee debated stricter laws for sex offenders, child pornographers and rapists at the Statehouse on Tuesday.
Of the numerous bills read, one dealt with the Protection from Sexual Predators Act of 2011, which would eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases.
The Protection from Sexual Predators Act, sponsored by Rep. Ronald Mariano, of Quincy, would give more rights to victims of sexual assault in court.
“This bill is about protecting children and allowing people to heal,” said sexual abuse attorney Mitchell Garabedian. “There is no statute of limitations on murder trials— there should be none in childhood sexual abuse cases, for these cases cause murder in the heart and soul of a child.”
Eunice White, a mother of a sexual assault victim who was sexually abused by a priest 31 years ago, pleaded with the committee for the creation of stricter laws.
“Thirty-one years ago you couldn’t prosecute,” White said. “Back then no one knew what pedophilia was…you have to give us a fair fight. It is time to open your heart.”
Gov. Deval Patrick’s bill proposes the creation of stricter laws and an update to the sexual predators list to comply with the national Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. The Adam Walsh act protects children from sexual exploitation and child abuse and promotes Internet safety, according to its site.
Patrick’s bill received little support as many said that it was unconstitutional. Committee chair Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty, of Chelsea, said that Patrick had filed parts of the bill that violated the Mass. constitution.
Larni Levy, the director of alternative commitment and registration support unit for the Committee of Public Council Services, said the bill is “not a good public safety bill.”
“It is administratively unfeasible for our police,” Levy said.
“Anyone who says that Mass. is soft on sexual offenders is woefully ignorant of the law,” Levy added.
However, other state representatives and senators sided with Patrick and are in support of bills aimed to strengthen laws dealing with sexual assault.
“It is our duty to protect the children who cannot protect themselves,” said Rep. Donald Wong, of Saugus. “Some people say give compassion to the criminal. I say, give compassion to the victim.”