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May 7, 2007 (512) 463-0300

INCREASED CHILD SEX ABUSE PENALTIES PASSED

(AUSTIN) -- The Senate approved a measure Monday intended to aid district attorneys in prosecuting those who repeatedly sexually abuse a child over a period of time. Senate Bill 78, by Plano Senator Florence Shapiro, creates a new type of offense, called continuous sexual abuse of a child. This would apply to someone that commits a sexual assault or indecency with a child under 14 years of age more than once over a 90 day period. Anyone convicted under this proposed law would face a minimum sentence of 25 years in jail, without possibility of parole. "I am offering this bill to give prosecutors a tool they need to get convictions in the very difficult situation when a child has been the victim of on-going sexual abuse," said Shapiro.

This bill is very similar to language in HB 8, also known as Jessica's Law, which passed the Senate earlier in the session. That bill created a similar penalty, but only if the crimes are committed within 30 days. Monday's bill creates a back-up vehicle for continuous sexual abuse of a child to become law, if conferees on HB 8 are unable to reach a compromise.

Also Monday, the Senate passed a bill that would give the Legislature more oversight over lawsuits against the state. SB 2031, by Bryan Senator Steve Ogden, would require the Legislature to approve any settlement over $5 million. This would prevent situations where the Attorney General can agree to a very large settlement without legislative involvement.

The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, May 8, at 8 a.m. to consider the Local and Uncontested Calendar, and will convene in regular session at 11 a.m.

PHOTO
(From right) Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Senator Kirk Watson, Senator Leticia Van de Putte, Rep. Jose Menendez, and Rep. Tommy Merrit stand for the National Anthem at a memorial service for fallen Texas police officers on the Capitol Grounds Monday.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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