Governor Baker Says He Has ‘Concerns’ Over Senate Criminal Justice Bill, Including Statutory Rape Reform

Printed from:

BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker signaled on Tuesday his opposition to “elements” of a criminal justice reform bill touted by Massachusetts Senate members, including a potential revision of statutory rape and age-of-consent laws.

Asked during a press conference whether the proposal, drafted by state Senator William Brownsberger (D-Belmont) and which would enact a series of sexual consent age changes, Baker responded by saying he’s concerned by that and other aspects of the Senate’s bill.

“I have some concerns about that but I have some concerns about a lot of elements about that legislation,” Baker said. “And I have a very positive sense about other parts of it.”

Baker continued:

“We have a long way to go between where we are now and the end of this process. We filed a number of pieces of legislation on the criminal justice side, some of which were incorporated, which we appreciate, many of which are still being heard and are going to be part of a larger dialogue. It’s my hope and my expectation that at some point over the rest of this [legislative] session, we’ll be able to work with our folks in the House and in the Senate to come up with a bill that moves the commonwealth forward on this issue and is something everyone can sign off on.”

Other versions of the bill drafted by Baker’s office and House members omit any proposals calling for changing Massachusetts’ statutory rape laws. Brownsberger’s proposal, meanwhile, proposes legalizing sexual intercourse with minors under the age of 16 should said individual be less than four years older in age.

The Swampscott Republican did not specify what his other concerns are with the Democrat-dominated Senate’s proposal. 

Currently, state law prohibits sex with individuals under 16 years old and specifically calls for prison terms for those who “unlawfully have sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse, and abuses a child under 16 years of age.”

The Senate bill features multiple layers of changes:

Conservative pro-family groups have already expressed concerns with the legislation.