By Katie Euphrat
SAN DIEGO - The father of slain Poway High School senior Chelsea King announced plans today to extend the heart of Chelsea’s Law (AB-1844 PDF) to Illinois and Texas. Brent King and former state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher made the announcement at a news conference in Balboa Park Friday.
Legislation in both states would enforce the heart of Chelsea’s Law, imprisoning for life those who commit certain violent sexual crimes against children.
A spokeswoman said the law would be tailored to each state, where there are currently less harsh penalties for such crimes.
Three years ago, 17-year-old Chelsea King went for a run and never came back. Registered sex offender John Gardner was later convicted of raping and murdering King. He admitted to killing a second girl, 14-year-old Amber Dubois of Escondido, one year earlier. Gardner is now serving a life sentence at the California State Prison at Corcoran.
Brent King hopes violent sex offenders in Illinois and Texas will soon meet the same fate.
“My goal is to have Chelsea’s Law in every state," he said. "At the end of the day, the real objective is a one-strike law that says, ‘If you harm a child, you’re done, you go away for life.’ There doesn’t need to be a second victim.”
Fletcher, who ran for mayor in November and now works for Qualcomm, authored Chelsea’s Law when he was a Republican assemblyman. It was signed into California law on September 9, 2010.
“We saw the legislature come together to solve a problem," he said. "Now we need to see that same legislative body come together to see that it’s properly implemented and enforced. But I think that that same spirit will carry us through to other states.”
In its first year, Chelsea’s Law created stricter penalties for 19 convicted sex offenders in San Diego County. A study conducted by the King family’s nonprofit, Chelsea’s Shield, shows that more than 40 people in San Diego County have been charged under Chelsea’s Law.
The nonprofit estimates that most people convicted of raping children in the U.S. are imprisoned for between three and seven years.
Chelsea King’s parents now live with their son Tyler in Illinois, but they’re in town for the annual Finish Chelsea’s Run 5K this Saturday at 7:30 a.m. in Balboa Park.
Hearings for the newly-introduced legislation in Texas and Illinois are expected within a few months. Then, Brent King will be attempting to bring the legislation to Ohio, and more states in the near future.