Children who live through the nightmare of repeated sexual assault can face the possibility of reliving the trauma, repeatedly, in court. If the perpetrator has engaged in a patten of abuse against the victim that has spanned several jurisdictions, it can lead to multiple trials under current law, forcing the child to endure a retelling of the tragedy in each prosecution.
The House on Monday unanimously approved bipartisan legislation that would consolidate those prosecutions into one case establishing a pattern of sexual assault. That would spare the child the added trauma of further trials and enable the prosecutor to build the case at that time for the stiffer penalties attached to a finding of a pattern of abuse.
House Bill 1109, sponsored in the House by Rep. Terri Carver, R-Colorado Springs, and Rep. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, specifically allows the prosecution of a defendant charged with sex-assault-on-a-child pattern offense or sex-assault-on-a-child-in-a-position-of-trust pattern offense to be tried:
- In a county where at least one or more of the incidents of sexual contact occurred;
- In a county where an act in furtherance of the offense was committed; or
- In a county where the victim resided during all or part of the offense.
In a press statement from the House Democrats, Danielson said:
“Any time a child is victimized by a sexual predator, it is a tragedy for the victim and a vile crime that deserves swift punishment. When a child is assaulted multiple times by a pattern offender, law enforcement must be able to use every tool at their disposal to remove the predator from society.”
And here’s Carver, from a press statement put out by the House GOP:
“Consolidating child sexual assault charges from multiple jurisdictions into one trial prevents the victims from reliving their trauma through multiple trials, and streamlines the process of bringing habitual child sex offenders to justice…I was pleased to see such strong support from my colleagues and from the victim advocacy groups for this legislation, and know it will reduce the trauma child victims of sexual assault experience during their perpetrator’s trial.”
The proposal now goes to the Senate.