Winchester Star • November 30th, 2018
By Onofrio Castiglia
WINCHESTER — Renewable energy, farmland preservation, and a broader statutory definition of sex abuse are among Del. Wendy Gooditis’ legislative priorities for the upcoming General Assembly session, she said on Wednesday.
The 2019 legislative session convenes on Jan. 9 in Richmond for 45 days.
Entering her second year as a legislator, Gooditis, D-Clarke County, said she’s also concerned with appropriations for Interstate 81, political support for renewable energy, rural broadband, and legalizing testing strips for Fentanyl, a powerful opioid narcotic.
The definition of sex abuse in the Code of Virginia does not sufficiently protect children under 13 who are in effect “groomed” for sex by psychologically abusive predators, Gooditis said. She plans to sponsor a bill that would change the statutory definition requiring that abuse entail touching “intimate parts” to instead cover any part of the victim’s body. Prosecutors would still have to prove sexual intent, Gooditis said, but they would have a broader definition of abuse.
For example, Gooditis said, as the law stands a kiss must involve the tongue to be considered sex abuse. “It shouldn’t be,” she said. Unwanted or inappropriate kissing or touching should be a crime regardless of what body parts are involved.