Battling Sexual Predators
By RICHARD MEEHAN
The Cool Justice Report
July 11, 2007
EDITOR'S NOTE: This column is available for reprint courtesy of The Cool Justice Report, http://cooljustice.blogspot.com
The tortured and ravaged death of a child has once again defined the law in Connecticut. In 1994 seven-year-old Megan Kanka was raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender who had moved into her New Jersey neighborhood. No one knew that a sexual predator named Jesse Timmendequas lived only doors down from Megan’s home. He lured her inside with a promise to see a puppy. He had two prior convictions for the sexual assault of very young children.
Megan’s death became the catalyst for the establishment of sex offender registration programs through out the country. Profiles and locations of registered sex offenders are now available online in Connecticut at www.ct.gov/dps/cwp.
In 2005, 10-year-old Jessica Lunsford was abducted, raped and murdered by another convicted sex offender. Following her death Jessica’s dad, Mark Lunsford, crystallized efforts for more stringent controls of sex offenders and greater prison sentences. Ironically Jessica’s older brother was later arrested for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
As we have adopted a version of Megan’s Law, Connecticut has now adopted a version of Jessica’s Law. Jessica’s Law, Public Act 07-143, effective July 1, 2007. The purpose of the Act was to create mandatory minimum sentences for sex offenses against minors under the age of 13. Here are some of the highlights of the law:
Section 3 of Jessica’s Law creates a new offense of aggravated sexual assault on a child under age 13, which now becomes a Class A felony with a penalty of a 25-year minimum mandatory sentence for a first conviction, and 50-year minimum mandatory sentence for a second offense;
Section 4 of Jessica’s Law amends Connecticut General Statute §53-21(a)(2), (Risk of Injury), creating a Class B felony, punishable up to 20 years in prison with a new 5-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for sexual contact with a child under 16;
Under Section 5 of Jessica’s Law, enticing a minor by use of a computer now becomes a Class B felony with a new 5-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for a first time offender, and a 10-year mandatory minimum for subsequent offense;
Section 6 of Jessica’s Law amends §53a-196a, Employing a Minor in Obscene Performance, which now becomes a Class A felony and a 10-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment;
Section 7 of Jessica’s Law amends Connecticut General Statute §53a-196c, making the importation of child pornography a Class B felony, also with a new 5-year mandatory minimum provision.
Section 8 of Jessica’s Law amends §53a-196d, possession of child pornogrpahy in the 1st degree, making it a Class B felony, as well with a 5-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment.
Sections 9 and 10 amend the possession of child pornography in the 2nd and 3rd degrees imposing mandatory minimum terms.
The severity of punishment for sexual exploitation of children represents a mandate by society that we will not tolerate sexual predation. It is the legacy of these murdered children. Megan and Jessica, names we have all sadly come to identify with sexual predation, have served notice to predators that they will pay a heavy price for their perversion.
Bridgeport attorney Richard Meehan Jr. was the lead defense counsel for former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim's corruption trial. Meehan is certified as a criminal trial specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1994 and serves on the organizations Board of Examiners. He is a Charter Fellow, American Academy of Trial Counsel. Meehan has also obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements in complex medical and dental malpractice and personal injury litigation. He is a past president of the Greater Bridgeport Bar Association and appears regularly on Court TV. Website, www.meehanlaw.com