TOPEKA – (May 1, 2019) –Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today applauded legislative passage of a bill to prevent state judges from lowering prison sentences for adult sex offenders because a child victim was an “aggressor” who contributed to the crime.
“No matter the child’s behavior, child victims are not responsible for the criminal conduct of adults who commit sex crimes against them,” Schmidt said. “It has been my view that Kansas law should reflect that simple principle, and I am grateful the Legislature has agreed.”
Current law allows judges to reduce the length of prison sentences – or “depart downward" from statutory sentence guidelines – by finding that the victim of certain crimes contributed to the criminal conduct by being an “aggressor.” The bill passed today would make that reason for downward departure unavailable in sex crimes when the victim is younger than 14 years and the offender is an adult. It also would make that departure factor unavailable when human trafficking victims are involved regardless of their age.
Schmidt requested the legislation in February, along with Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson, in response to a decision by a Leavenworth County judge reducing the sentence imposed on a 67-year-old male who was convicted of committing a sex crime against a 13-year-old girl. The reduction was based at least in part on the judge’s finding that the child victim was an “aggressor” in the crime.
“Children are just that, children,” Thompson said. “They should not be viewed as aggressors when it comes to sex acts against them. I’m glad our legislators agree.”
The bill, adopted as part of the conference committee report on Senate Bill 18, now heads to the governor’s desk for her consideration and possible signature into law.