Why does Ken Cuccinelli want to leave Virginia children vulnerable to sexual abuse?

In 2003, as surely everyone knows, Virginia’s archaic and nearly universally ignored “Crimes Against Nature” law was rendered unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v Texas. Because it is unconstitutional, because it is a blanket prohibition of oral and anal sex for everyone, it can’t be used to prosecute anyone. Case in point: When the law was used in 2005 to prosecute a 47-year-old man for soliciting a 17-year-old girl to perform oral sex, the conviction was overturned.

That outcome was perfectly predictable – and avoidable. In 2004, there was a bipartisan effort in the Virginia legislature to fix the law by eliminating the part that makes it unconstitutional:

§ 18.2-361. Crimes against nature.

A. Any person who (i) carnally knows in any manner any brute animal is guilty of a Class 6 felony, or (ii) carnally knows any male or female person by the anus or by or with the mouth, or voluntarily submits to such carnal knowledge, is guilty of a Class 6 felony 3 misdemeanor, except as provided in subsection B. B. The provisions of clause (ii) of this subsection shall not apply where all persons are consenting adults who are not in a public place and who are not aiding, abetting, procuring, engaging in or performing any act in furtherance of prostitution.

and leaving in place a statute that would be viable in the prosecution of adult predators:

§ 18.2-371. Causing or encouraging acts rendering children delinquent, abused, etc.; penalty; abandoned infant.

Any person 18 years of age or older, including the parent of any child, who (i) willfully contributes to, encourages, or causes any act, omission, or condition which renders a child delinquent, in need of services, in need of supervision, or abused or neglected as defined in § 16.1-228, or (ii) engages in consensual sexual intercourse with a child 15 years of age or older not his spouse, child, or grandchild, shall be or (iii) engages in consensual carnal knowledge by the anus or by or with the mouth or the voluntary submission to such carnal knowledge with a child 15 years of age or older not his spouse, child, or grandchild, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Had these changes been adopted, the 2005 conviction would never have been appealed and overturned. Virginia already has laws criminalizing statutory rape and other sexual acts between an adult and a child under 15, and this would have been an easy fix.

But, no. Ken Cuccinelli vigorously opposed bringing this law into conformity with the Constitution and protecting vulnerable adolescents, and has done nothing to address the issue in the intervening decade. Now, under the comically inappropriate headline “Keep Virginia Kids Safe,” Ken Cuccinelli is trying to reinvent this useless, dead-in-the-water statute as an “anti-child predators law” for his gubernatorial campaign. “It’s about using current law to protect a 17-year-old girl from a 47-year-old sexual predator,” insisted his spokesperson.

In fact, this “current law” could not be more different from an “anti-child predators law.” It remains on the books – precisely because of Cuccinelli’s own obstructionism – as a get-out-of-jail-free card for certain sexual predators not prosecutable under other Virginia law. If any more individuals convicted under this unconstitutional law are able to have their convictions overturned and their names removed from Virginia’s sex offender registry, the blame lies entirely with Mr. Cuccinelli and his reckless allies. They have had ten years to correct any inadequacies in the law protecting adolescents, and have utterly failed to do so. “You can’t use an unconstitutional law to prosecute people,” [Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia] said. “Go get yourself a constitutional law.” How hard is this?

We can only conclude that Ken Cuccinelli does not want – for some reason – these victims of sexual predators empowered to hold their abusers accountable. It’s almost as if he wanted these offenders eligible to have their convictions overturned. The obvious and usual reason suggested for this is his irrational interest in policing the sexual relationships of consenting adults. However, there are concurrent debates over sexual predator law elsewhere that suggest other reasons for his desire to keep this impotent law on the books. His allegiance to an enabler of massive child sexual abuse deserves more attention.

4 thoughts on “Why does Ken Cuccinelli want to leave Virginia children vulnerable to sexual abuse?

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  3. Epluribusunum Post author

    I will if I can find one, or get the details repeated from someone who was there. Josh Israel explicitly refers to Cuccinelli helping to kill the bill on the Senate floor, which he may have witnessed himself. The “smoking gun” of video or audio from the floor is dependent on a citizen having been there to record what was said, as someone happened to be for then-delegate Dick Black’s speech defending marital rape. But Cuccinelli has always made it very clear that repealing the VA “crimes against nature” law was unacceptable to him, and he’s been on my radar since then. Here, he complains to the Washington Times that “homosexuals” are trying to “dismantle sodomy laws.” He has continued since then to “explain” “why homosexual acts are wrong and should not be accommodated in government policy,” as in this 2009 speech.

    I remember hearing about his active opposition to the bill at the time because the response to Lawrence v Texas by the anti-gay activists in Loudoun and Virginia was really the thing that got us off our butts to found Equality Loudoun. We had witnessed a horrifying LCRC meeting following the decision, in which a tearful Eve Marie Barner, a then-Patrick Henry College student who shortly thereafter became Cuccinelli’s legislative aide, bumped a dozen waiting school board candidates off the agenda to present a resolution demanding that it be reversed. In part it said that “the Supreme Court formerly and correctly held in Bowers v. Hardwick…Sodomy laws should not be invalidated on the asserted basis that majority belief that sodomy is immoral is an inadequate rationale to support the laws.” Having this law declared unconstitutional was a huge, huge deal for the anti-gay fringe that dominated the LCRC and its allies like Fairfax’s Cuccinelli, although not so much for everyone else. A substantially revised version (one that was couched in less florid language) was adopted at a meeting two months later.

  4. Zachary Pruckowski

    Can you add a cite for the “Ken Cuccinelli vigorously opposed” SB477 claim? It might be common knowledge to politicos active in 2004, but I was in high school then and wasn’t exactly tracking that bill in the legislature. All I can find is Cuccinelli voting against reporting it out in committee, but not the “smoking gun” of him opposing it on the Senate floor.

    Bonus: Obenshain was also a nay in committee.


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