After the arrest of a Massachusetts man in what authorities said was “among the worst cases of child abuse ever prosecuted,” elected officials are calling for stricter penalties for first time child sex predators.
Earlier this month, after police nabbed John Burbine, a Wakefield man accused of raping 13 boys and girls, some as young as 8 days old, WRKO’s Jeff Kuhner and State Representative Shaunna O’Connell announced they were joining forces to file a legislative package that would require information about level 1 and 2 child sexual predators to be posted online, making it available to the public.
Dubbed the “Child Sexual Predator Prevention Act,” the proposed legislation, if passed, would mean first-time child sex offenders would also face a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison.
According to the proposal, a second offense would carry a 40-year sentence, and a third offense would mean life in prison.
Burbine, accused of sexually abusing children at his wife’s unlicensed day care center, was classified as a Level 1 sex offender prior to his recent arrest.
According to state laws, information about Level 1 offenders is currently not made public.
“The current law does not require any jail time at all for first-time child rapists. We have to send a strong message that protecting innocent children is our top priority,” said O’Connell in a statement sent to BostInno.
O’Connell, a long-time advocate for stronger penalties for child predators, first got involved in politics working to pass Jessica’s law in Massachusetts in 2008.
“As a mother of two daughters, I worked passionately to get tougher sentences for child rapists,” she said. “And that’s what I’m going to do again.”
According to the State House News Service, Governor Deval Patrick proposed a bill this legislative session that would have made more information public about convicted sex offenders, but not mandatory jail time sought by O’Connell.
Under Patrick’s bill, information about Level 1 offenders would have been made public to anyone who called the police, similar to how Level 2 information is handled.
Attorney General Martha Coakley said she continues to support Patrick’s proposal, even though it didn’t get passed.
“Families should have the tools at their disposal to make informed decisions about how to best protect their children, including access to appropriate information about Level 1 sex offenders,” Coakley said in a statement.