Bill Sets Single Trial For Sexual Abuse Victims

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Tennessee General Assembly has passed a bill that reduces the number of times sexual abuse victims must testify in court. Under the new “Child Protection Act,” a person accused of sexually abusing a child multiple times will receive a single trial, allowing a victimized child to testify only once in court. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, and Senator Ken Yager, R-Harriman. 

“Under previous law, children who were victims of repeated sexual abuse had to endure numerous trials and re-live the abuse on the witness stand,” said Rep. Dean. “Sexual offenders must face justice but not at the expense of our children’s peace of mind. The Child Protection Act ends the trial process as quickly as possible for our children, allowing them to move forward with their lives.”

If a person is accused of sexually abusing a child three or more times within a 90-day period, the new legislation will merge these offenses into a single trial. The same rule applies for a person accused of at least five incidents of sexual abuse involving two or more victims within a 90-day period. The bill also indicates a defendant will be given a single trial regardless of whether the counts of sexual abuse occur in separate counties.

By reducing the number of trials of sexual offenders in the state, the Child Protection Act will also yield a significant cost-savings to the public, Rep. Dean said.

He said he has been working on the bill for nearly three years alongside the District Attorney’s Conference and the Tennessee Bar Association. He issued a special thank you to Hamilton County District Attorney Bill Cox who he indicated played an instrumental role in getting the legislation drafted and approved. 

“It has been an honor to join forces with Rep. Vince Dean in making legislation that further protects the victims of these heinous crimes,” said District Attorney Bill Cox. “The Child Protection Act will not only save money for the public, but it will significantly reduce the emotional strain on the victims and their families.”

The bill cleared both the House and Senate with a unanimous vote. It is now on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law. 

“This law is a good example of how the legislative and judicial systems can work hand-in-hand for our community’s security,” said Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee.“ Both legislators and court officials alike have expressed how vital this added protection is, and we are deeply grateful to all sides for joining together to better shield the children in our state.”


Fleischmann Says GOP Focusing On Widening Lead In House; Taking Control Of Senate

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said Monday that Republicans are focusing on a "Drive to 245" in the House and on taking control of the Senate. He said Republicans now have 234 House seats and "should pick up at least five or six - maybe more." In the Senate, he said, "We are going to gain seats - no question." He told the Pachyderm Club that if Republicans can gain the edge in ... (click for more)

Owsley Gets 12 And Half Years In Federal Prison After Arrest On String Of Robberies

Demarcus Anthony Owsley, who was arrested along with Shawn Lawaun Davis on a string of robberies, was sentenced on Monday to serve 12 and a half years in federal prison. Owsley, 24, appeared before Federal Judge Sandy Mattice. Shawn Lawaun Davis, 29, went to trial recently and was convicted. He faces later sentencing. Attorney Michael Keith Davis said Owsley should get ... (click for more)

ChattaData Is A Real Advance For The City

This past Tuesday, the city of Chattanooga's new performance management tool called ChattaData was unveiled. As the chairman of the City Council’s Budget & Finance Committee, I am excited to witness the city putting this important information online in a way that is accessible and transparent to all taxpayers. This approach shines light on how we as a city prioritize our ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s ‘Hate The SEC’ Day

The boo birds came out on the fly on the ESPN website Sunday afternoon, this moments after the latest AP College Football “Top 25” included eight teams from the Southeastern Conference.   What set naysayers aglow was Mississippi State, after upsetting LSU 34-29 Saturday night, debuted on the list at No. 14 while Clemson, playing Florida State in an overtime thriller, got tossed ... (click for more)

Tennessee Gets Down To Final Preparations For Georgia

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.   – Tennessee’s first Southeastern Conference road trip to Georgia on Saturday (noon kickoff on the SEC Network) will be a homecoming for 17 Vols. That fact is not lost on those players, from freshmen wanting to make a first impression to those, like   A.J. Johnson , playing against the Bulldogs and in their home state for the final time. ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Golf Team Second At Wolf Run Intercollegiate

The Chattanooga Mocs men’s golf team is tied for second after 18 holes at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate. The Mocs and Florida Gators each shot 295 over the opening 18 to trail Illinois by 11 at 285 at Wolf Run Golf Club. The day’s docket had a scheduled 36 holes. Afternoon storms sent teams from the course prior to finishing. The remaining holes will be completed starting at 9:30 ... (click for more)