Marsy’s Law for Kentucky Testifies Before Legislative Committee

This past Tuesday, Marsy’s Law for Kentucky had the opportunity to testify in front of an interim joint legislative committee. Since joining the organization, this was my first opportunity to testify so I was a bit nervous. Thankfully, I have a tremendous team of complete professionals who worked alongside me to ensure we covered all aspects of Marsy’s Law in presenting to the committee.

I was also so fortunate that the committee was comprised of legislators who had all voted in favor of the Marsy’s Law bill last session and had indicated that their support would continue. A “friendly” committee is always a wonderful and welcome thing!

Presenting with me was Eileen Recktenwald, Executive Director of the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs (KASAP). Eileen has a lifetime of advocacy experience and her statewide advocacy program is extremely well respected. She informed the committee that Marsy’s Law will be KASAP’s one legislative priority this next legislative session.

Also testifying was a victim who wished to be identified as “Lisa.” Simply stated, Lisa’s story is what truly captured the complete attention of every single person in the room. You could hear a pin drop and an occasional gasp could be heard at times throughout her testimony. She told of a lengthy marriage of emotional, financial and sexual abuse by her husband. One day, she came home to a dinner prepared by her husband and three teen sons. She ate the dinner and immediately started feeling disoriented. After waking up the next morning, she realized that three of her Ambien pills were missing. Confused, she asked her husband what had occurred. He admitted he had drugged her, raped her and taken pictures. Stunned, in shock, and afraid, Lisa slowly began regaining strength. As she began exhibiting strength, physical abuse began and she resolved to go to the police. This was seven months after the rape occurred.

Thankfully, the detective Lisa spoke with was compassionate. He believed her. But he explained that without physical evidence, the Commonwealth could not make a case against her husband. They would need a confession. So Lisa agreed to wear a wire and face her rapist and abuser one last time with undercover law-enforcement all around in a restaurant. She was terrified, but he gave a full confession and the Commonwealth had its evidence.  Lisa’s husband was charged with Rape 1, carrying a prison sentence of 10 to 20 years. She thought the worst was over –  but she was wrong.

Some time later, without Lisa’s input or apparent consideration for her safety, the prosecutor assigned to her case negotiated a deal with the defense attorney and settled on Assault 4, which carries no jail time. When Lisa expressed dissatisfaction with the agreement, she was told, “I’m driving this bus.”

Lisa explained to the legislative committee that had Marsy’s Law been in effect, she would have had the opportunity to address the court and express her feelings and safety concerns regarding the plea. And while her concerns may or may not have had an impact on the ultimate disposition of the case, she would have felt more at peace – she would have felt HEARD.

I look forward to continued work with Lisa, Eileen and the entire Marsy’s Law for Kentucky team to convey this very powerful message to other legislative committees during the session and to passing Marsy’s Law in 2017.  

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