A bill that would allow Tennessee's district attorneys to prosecute serial child sexual abusers with a single trial even if the abuses occurred in multiple judicial districts is now on it's way to the Finance, Ways, and Means Committee.
On Tuesday, HB 1293 passed through the House Criminal Justice Committee and SB 1362 passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Vince Dean (R-Chattanooga) said the bill is meant to protect child victims from the trauma of multiple rape and sexual abuse trials.
“The child has already gone through enough and gone through life-changing events that they'll probably never fully recover from,” Rep. Dean said. “And this cuts down on the trauma that they have to go through in order to put the bad guy in jail.”
The bill was spurred by the infamous Jerry Sandusky trial in Pennsylvania where multiple abuse cases were grouped together for trial.
If the Sandusky case played out in Tennessee, there would have been multiple trials for the multiple abuses.
In addition to child advocacy groups supporting the legislation, district attorneys in Tennessee are also backing the measure.
“This was the number one priority to try and protect the kids,” said Guy Jones, deputy director for the Tennessee District Attorneys Conference.
“We're hoping we never have to use it. But if we do have a situation in Tennessee like the one in Pennsylvania, we want to be prepared,” he continued.