Do Texas Tea Party Lawmakers Support Rapists over Victims?

by Dan Quinn

We told you over the holidays about Texas state Rep. Jonathan Stickland’s offensive “joke” about marital rape: “Rape is non existent in marriage, take what you want my friend!” Since then, Scott Braddock of the Austin-based political website Quorum Report has reported that Stickland, R-Fort Worth, is one of five Tea Partiers in the Texas House who voted last spring against legislation designed to make it easier to bring sexual predators to justice.

Stickland, and state Reps. Reps. Matt Rinaldi, Matt Schaefer, Tony Tinderholt, and Cecil Bell — all Republicans and Tea Party/religious-right heroes — voted against House Bill 189, which drops the statute of limitations in criminal sexual assault cases in which there is “probable cause that the defendant committed the same or similar crime against five or more victims.” It also extends the statute of limitations in civil cases against sex offenders. The bill passed with large majorities (just five “no” votes on the final bill), and Gov. Greg Abbott signed it into law.

Braddock’s Dec. 31 article about the issue (behind a paywall) also notes that Rep. Schaefer’s chief of staff was recently arrested for soliciting a minor for sex. (We’ll note that the five Tea Partiers/religious-righters are also hardline “traditional values” lawmakers opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage.)

Braddock quotes Republican primary opponents of the five. Tinderholt’s primary opponent, Andrew Piel, pulls no punches:

“I stand with every husband and father in Texas who is appalled by Representative Tinderholt’s vote. He must explain why he would support the interests of pedophiles and violent rapists at the expense of their victims, many of whom suffer mentally and physically for many years after the assault.”

The Texas Tribune has more here. The Tribune quotes Rinaldi as saying that he thought HB 189 would create a “very high risk of [someone] being wrongfully accused of sexual assault.”

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