With jaws clenched, constituents gathered in the Guam Congress Building’s public hearing room Wednesday morning to discuss four bills pertaining to criminal sexual conduct cases.
Written in consultation with sexual assault survivors, Senator Amanda Shelton’s Bill 157-35 aims to require convicted sex offenders to register on the sex offender registry even while undergoing appeal.
For Rose Hermoso, a social worker, her support of the bill’s passage stemmed from her experience as a sexual assault survivor who found out that her perpetrator was not a part of the registry because he was on appeal.
“A professor once told me in social justice class that everything that is political is personal and vice versa. Ten years ago, when I was just getting into the social worker field, I rolled my eyes and said whatever. In retrospect, it is very personal and it is very political in this matter. And it pains me to know why people hurt other people,” Hermoso said.
While the bill received support from all those who testified, Sen. Shelton said that she will work to include a mechanism that will take those who win their appeal off the registry.
The second bill on the floor, Bill 171-35, introduced by Sen. Therese Terlaje, intends to limit magistrates from handling cases concerning felony charges and criminal sexual conduct charges or repeat offenders.
Bill 172-35, also by Sen. Terlaje, would eliminate any barrier to the Guam Parole Board reviewing any assessments or reports prior to releasing any offender on parole.
For Sen. James Moylan’s Bill 175-35, which would restrict sex offenders from loitering in areas where children frequent, the constituents expressed their agreement that monitoring every public event is not possible within the Guam Police Department’s means and suggested the establishment of a task force to enforce the bill if it is passed into law.
Josette Quinata, another social worker and sexual assault survivor, stressed the need for such legislation to be passed to protect the community from such heinous acts.
“A failed implementation process and or a lack of accountability prevents every effort of trust, peace, and safety of being infused in our community after an incident of sexual assault. Healing is inclusive. Isolation can lead to hurt and harm,” Quinata said.
Moylan was on NewsTalk K57’s Andrea Pellicani show, sharing that written testimony from the Public Defender’s Office on Bill 175-35 raises concerns regarding the constitutionality of the bill and whether it is enforceable.
Testimonies on the bills that were discussed today can still be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.