Representative Sherry Roberts Statement on H5757 which strengthens and clarifies penalties for sexual assault

 

State House, Providence, RI – Representative Sherry Roberts offers the following statement on her bill, H5757, heard in House Judiciary, which strengthens and clarifies penalties for persons convicted of sexual assault:

Historically, Rhode Island has raced to compete with other states to be “first” on an entire host of issues that have been deemed a priority, but sadly in my experience, childhood sexual abuse has not been one of them. Furthermore, our priorities seem to have been somewhat misplaced, as there are laws that would put people in jail for longer periods of time for less offensive crimes, than for sexual assault against children. It often feels as if our children have taken the back seat as a priority, compared to many other issues that we have addressed.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and contrary to what some may even fully realize, I can affirmatively state that we have not created adequate laws to sufficiently protect children from sexual assault, nor have we made it easy for victims to receive justice after such a reprehensible crime -- a crime from which most victims have an extremely difficult time recovering.

Nationally, 44% of rape victims are under the age of 18, with the highest risk of victimization between the ages 12 - 34.  Only 6 in 1000 perpetrators will serve prison time for sexual assault. Rhode Island comes in 5th as one of the highest-ranking states for sexual assaults for school aged children according to the US Department of Education, and 59% of the assaults go unreported to the police. According to DCYF, in 2021, there were 6,938 child maltreatment cases in Rhode Island, with 4.7% of those cases deemed sexual abuse.

I would know this because prosecuting my offender was nearly impossible and it took me a lifetime to figure out how to navigate the system to overcome many obstacles, in search of results. As in my case, even when the victim seeks justice through the court system, the perpetrator can receive a simple slap on the wrist with a reduced sentence to avoid jail time. Make no mistake, this result is not justice. While the admission of guilt is a step in the right direction, the lack of consequence in the form of jail time, absolutely adds insult to injury. In fact, the lack of justice after such an experience, actually has a negative impact and re-victimizes the individual suffering from that deeply traumatizing event.

Today, we have the power to change that with House Bill H5757 by requiring people who are found guilty of 2nd degree sexual assault to be forced to serve a minimum jail sentence behind bars, which cannot be suspended or deferred. After all, the victim never has the ability to “opt-out” from the abuse, nor the lifetime of sufferable consequences.  Hopefully, clarifying the mandated sentence, that include jail time for childhood sexual assault, will help deter predators from destroying a child’s life in the future. If the passage of this bill can help just one child in the state of Rhode Island, then publicly pursuing my perpetrator was worth it.
 

Note:  On November 16, 2022, Representative Sherry Roberts received justice in a 40-year sexual abuse case, where the perpetrator was her stepfather.  He started grooming her at the age of eight and sexually assaulted during her teenage years. Harry Noel Edwards received a 10-year suspended sentence with probation after he agreed to plead no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree sexual assault.

 

 

The Supreme Court is getting rid of a Trump-era ban on "bump stocks." The court ruled Friday that the firearm accessory that allows semi-automatic rifles to fire more quickly can't be included in a 1934 law banning machine guns. The decision was 6-3 on ideological lines, striking down a regulation imposed during the Trump administration. Despite the ruling, bump stocks remain illegal in 18 states.       The Supreme Court is not yet ruling on Donald Trump's claims of presidential immunity. The court did not make a decision on the consequential case today, but may do so on June 20th when its next opinions are released. The case impacts some of Trump's pending cases, including his alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Trump argues he is immune from prosecution because his actions fell under official conduct that should be protected, and was not a private act.       Floridians can expect even more rain today after days of severe weather and flooding. Non-stop rain has drenched parts of the southern half of the state for days now -- including Miami. Governor Ron DeSantis already declared a state of emergency. Thunderstorm activity in the region is expected to subside by the weekend, but forecasters say flash flooding and urban flooding will remain possible through Saturday.       Kate, Princess of Wales, says she is making "good progress" in her treatment for cancer. In a rare statement Friday, the British royal said she is still undergoing chemotherapy and that she has "a few more months" of treatment remaining. She also announced that she will be attending a military parade Saturday to mark King Charles the Third's birthday. This will be her first official public appearance since she revealed she has cancer.       Ukraine is rejecting Russia's demands to bring the war between the two countries to an end. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country would end the war if Ukraine agreed to certain conditions. Those include Kyiv [[ KEEV ]] dropping its ambitions to join NATO, pulling out troops from four Ukrainian provinces claimed by Moscow. The proposal from Russia came just a day after the U.S. and Ukraine agreed to a new ten-year security agreement.       The USA cricket team is continuing to make history. The team has advanced to the next stage of the men's T20 Cricket World Cup after its match against Ireland was rained out in Florida Friday. The point earned by the USA due to the game being called off meant the team qualified for the Super Eight stage of the tournament. The USA will now be placed in a group of four of the final eight teams, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the semifinal round.