Schwarzenegger Signs Chelsea's Law
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Chelsea’s Law in San Diego Thursday to put some sex offenders away for life. Friends, family and lawmakers attended the ceremony in Balboa Park to honor the murdered Poway teen the law is named for.
Chelsea King was 17 years old when she was abducted, raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender. Chelsea’s Law, authored by Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego, imposes life sentences without parole for sex offenders who attack children under the age of 14. It also sets tough parole conditions and more targeted treatments for sex offenders.
"Because of Chelsea, California's children will be safer. Because of Chelsea, this never has to happen again" said Schwarzenegger.
The legislation was approved unanimously by the state Senate and Assembly.
Chelsea’s parents, Kelly and Brent King, looked on as Gov. Schwarzenegger signed the legislation at the Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. A tree is planted there in their daughter’s memory. It’s also the place Chelsea played the French horn with the San Diego Youth Symphony.
Kelly King tearfully thanked lawmakers and the community. "I offer my most heartfelt love and gratitude for your strength and support. Today is a day to celebrate your voice and your passion and to know that you’ve helped Chelsea fulfill her dreams of changing the world," she said.
The Kings said they wanted to prevent this tragedy from ever happening to another family.
"When Kelly and I sat around our kitchen table, with a few close friends and family, and had a discussion asking the tough questions of how preventable everything was that we had just gone through, and how broken the system was in our state, we knew the right thing to do for our community and our own healing, was to proactively change the laws," explained King.
Chelsea’s Law takes effect immediately. The Kings said they hope it will be used as a model for tougher sex offender laws in other states.
Chelsea was raped and killed by John Albert Gardner III on Feb. 25 while she was jogging at a Rancho Bernardo park. Searchers found her body a few days later in a shallow grave on the shore of Lake Hodges.
Gardner, 31, was sentenced in May to two life terms without parole for murdering and sexually assaulting Chelsea and for abducting, raping and fatally stabbing 14-year-old Amber Dubois of Escondido a year earlier.
Governor Schwarzenegger said he intends to sign a package of bills promoted by Amber's father, Moe Dubois, that are intended to improve law enforcement handling of missing person cases also await the governor's signature.