Calling it landmark legislation, Governor Jim Douglas signed a new sex offender bill into law. And sitting in the front row to see it all happen; relatives of Brooke Bennett, the 12-year-old Braintree girl whose rape and murder prompted the new law. Brooke's Uncle Michael Jacques is facing charges for the crime.
"If any good can come out of this nightmare, it's been in this bill they're getting ready to pass to protect other children," said Brooke's mother Cassandra Gagnon.
Brooke's bill would expand the DNA database, improve prevention programs in schools, give prosecutors the option of a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence for sex crimes on kids, and fund special crime investigation units in every county. The law is the first one passed this session and has widespread support.
"The pooling of expertise and the tireless work that went into that and went into building that case will insure offenders that commit violent sexual crimes against innocent children are brought to justice," said Douglas, R-Vermont.
"I think we can all be proud, admittedly what is nothing less than a tragic situation, there are children in Vermont today who will be safe," said Rep. Bill Lippert, D-Hinesburg.
When asked if the new law in any way would bring peace, Cassandra Gagnon said: "No peace, but assurance that the community is working to make sure this does not happen again."
Victim advocacy groups are praising passage of the new sex offender law, saying it will go a long way toward addressing and preventing sexual violence in Vermont.
Friday, April 18 2014 10:13 PM EDT2014-04-19 02:13:23 GMT
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