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BOSTON -- Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law new criminal penalties for child rapists Thursday, establishing a set of mandatory minimum sentences in Massachusetts that child advocates hope will discourage sexual predators.
The law, modeled after Jessica's law in Florida, did not go as far as some advocates wanted, but was still hailed Thursday as a victory for child protection.
Attorney General Martha Coakley crafted the bill with input from the state's 11 district attorneys, creating a set of charges that carry mandatory sentences of 10 to 15 years for a first offense and 20 years for repeat offenders.
"This new law provides prosecutors with crucial tools to hold accountable predators who take advantage of innocent and vulnerable children and ensures that the most serious offenders face significant prison sentences. Enactment of this law is yet another positive step toward keeping children safe," Coakley said. Patrick signed the bill Thursday morning, putting an end to worries that he might send it back to the Legislature for changes.
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