STATE HOUSE, Providence—The full Senate on Thursday unanimously approved legislation, of (2022-S 2219), that will close a loophole that allowed those in positions of authority to engage in sexual relations with children.
Senate Minority Whip Jessica de la Cruz (R-Dist. 23, North Smithfield, Burrillville, Glocester, North Smithfield), who has championed making this change, said she was thankful her colleagues passed this common-sense legislation.
Parents are angry and scared. It is crazy to think that until the governor signs this bill, it is perfectly legal for teachers or coaches to have sexual relations with children,” de la Cruz said. “I am grateful that my colleagues agree that our children need to be protected.”
Current state law states a person who engages in sex with a minor under 14 years old is guilty of first-degree child molestation sexual assault. Senator de la Cruz’ bill makes anyone in a position of authority who has sexual contact with a minor over 14 and under 18 years old guilty of third-degree sexual assault. A conviction of third-degree sexual assault has a penalty of five years in prison.
Representative Julie A. Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, Exeter, North Kingstown) sponsored matching legislation in the House, (2022-H 8230), which is being heard in the House Judiciary Committee this Friday.
“There has been a deluge of reports of teachers and coaches behaving inappropriately. We need to make certain the consequences of such reprehensible crimes are severe and appropriate,” de la Cruz said. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.
Senate co-sponsors of the legislation are Senators Elaine J. Morgan, (R-Dist. 34, Charlestown, Hopkinton, Exeter, Richmond, West Greenwich), Gordon E. Rogers, (R-Dist. 21, Coventry, Foster, Scituate, West Greenwich),
and Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston).
For more information, contact:
Senate Minority Office
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903