State Representative James Dwyer has announced that he is working with Rep. Shaunna O’Connell of Taunton on a legislative package known as Child Sexual Predator Prevention Act. The two legislators want to send a strong bi-partisan message that the Commonwealth has no tolerance for child sexual predators. Laurie Myers of the victims advocacy group Community VOICES also supports the legislation.
The legislative package providers for:
- A minimum 25-year sentence for the first offense of raping a child (Current statute does not provide for a minimum sentence for a first time conviction)
- A 40-year sentence for the second offense
- A life sentence for the third conviction.
- Requiring level 1 and 2 predators to have their information posted online (Current federal law requires that level 2 offenders be listed online, but the Commonwealth has failed to meet the federal requirement)
- Requiring agencies that oversee children and developmentally disabled persons to communicate with the sex offender registry board
Rep. Dwyer and Rep. O’Connell are pursuing this aggressive legislation in response to the reported crimes of John Burbine who allegedly assaulted 13 babies and toddlers and now faces 100 sexual abuse charges. Currently, there is no mandatory sentence for first offense rape of a child. Current state law only dictates mandatory sentences only apply to aggravated rape of a child; however, assaults such as the ones allegedly committed by Burbine would not be categorized as aggravated.
Rep. Dwyer spent 35 years as a Juvenile Probation Officer in the Middlesex Juvenile Court having been elevated to the position of Assistance Chief Probation Officer several years before his retirement. Upon being sworn in as State Representative in 2009, Rep. Dwyer was appointed to the Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities for a two year term to focus on the experience he had gained in Juvenile Probation working with troubled children and their families.
“It’s time that the Commonwealth adopted a “no tolerance” policy when it comes to those who take advantage of our most vulnerable,” said Rep. Dwyer. “We need to take a stand and create sensible policy that keeps the most hideous types of criminals behind bars rather than allowing them leniency to commit these acts again.”
Rep. O’Connell has been a long-time advocate for stronger penalties for child predators. She first got involved in politics working with child advocacy group Community Voices to pass Jessica’s law in Massachusetts.
“As a mother, I want to do everything in my power to send a loud message that the Commonwealth has no tolerance for child sexual predators. Any act against a child will result in stiff mandatory sentences,” said O’Connell. “We need to do all we can to protect innocent children.”
Community Voices is also supporting the Child Sexual Predator Prevention Act.
“I'm proud to stand with Rep. O'Connell and Rep. Dwyer on this very important legislation,” said Laurie Myers, a victim rights advocate. “It's time for Massachusetts to deal with the issue of protecting children head on with laws that put the safety of our children and communities first and send the message that victimizing vulnerable children is unacceptable. The days of another child being victimized by a repeat offender must come to an end, our children deserve better.”