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By John Hill October 30, 2012

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline says he voted for tougher laws against child abusers, domestic abusers, when he was a Rhode Island state representative

Republican Brendan Doherty has been mining U.S. Rep. David Cicilline’s legal and legislative resume recently, pointing out unsavory law clients Cicilline represented as a criminal defense lawyer and criticizing him for votes that he took during his eight years in the Rhode Island House of Representatives.

In an Oct. 9, 2012, news release, Doherty accused Cicilline, a freshman Democrat, of voting against two bills in the mid-1990s that would have imposed mandatory sentences for certain domestic violence and child abuse offenses. We examined Doherty’s claim and ruled it True.

Last week  the Cicilline campaign  decided two could play that game, releasing a television ad that labeled Doherty’s attacks "outrageous."

The ad cited anti-crime bills Cicilline supported in the legislature on behalf of women, the elderly and other victims of crimes, including cases of sexual abuse.

We decided to check Cicilline’s list, checking Journals of the Rhode Island House, state statutes, and our own news files. We found that the ad accurately cited the legislation and Cicilline’s votes.

The first involved crimes against the elderly.

In 1998, Cicilline was among a group of legislators who supported a bill called the Elderly Violence Protection Act. It established that particular crimes should be charged differently if they were committed against a victim older than 60.   

On July 14, 1998, he made a motion, which was approved, to add breaking and entering to that list.  He was the only one of the group of sponsors or seconders to discuss the act on the floor. It passed on a 69-3 vote and ultimately became law.
In the 2000 legislative session, Cicilline proposed legislation that would have created a crime of indecent solicitation of a child under 14 for the purpose of sexual molestation. It didn’t pass that year. But in 2004, two years after Cicilline had left the state House for the Providence mayor’s office, a similar bill was enacted, though it set the age at 18, rather than 14.

The next year Cicilline introduced a bill that would have eliminated the statute of limitations for lawsuits filed by victims of child sexual abuse. The existing law said someone so harmed had seven years to file a suit. The bill didn’t pass and the seven-year limit remains in effect today.

In 2002, he submitted a bill that would have prohibited anyone who has been the subject of a restraining order from owning firearms.

The existing law forbade people who had been convicted of a crime of violence, a felony or who were under home confinement from owning a gun. The bill didn’t pass.

Our ruling

Featured Fact-check

Cicilline campaign TV ad says Cicilline, as a state representative, voted for tougher anti-crime bills.

We verified that Cicilline supported the bills cited in the ad, though not all of them became law.

We find his statement True.

(Get updates from PolitiFactRI on Twitter. To comment or offer your ruling, visit us on our PolitiFact Rhode Island Facebook page.)

Our Sources, "Brendan Doherty Says U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, when he was a state reprsentative, opposed mandatory sentences for people convicted of domestic violence and child abuse," Oct. 15, 2012

State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Journal of the House of Representatives, Tuesday July 14, 1988, accessed Oct. 24, 2012

"An Act Relating to Criminal Procedure -- Elderly Violence Protection Act Substitute A," Rhode Island General Assembly, Jan. 7, 1998, accessed Oct. 24, 2012

"An Act Relating to Criminal Offenses -- Sexual Assault," Rhode Island General Assembly, Jan. 27, 2000, accessed Oct. 24, 2012

"An Act Relating to Criminal Offenses -- Weapons," Rhode Island General Assembly, March 13, 2002, accessed oct. 24, 2012

"Outrageous," television advertisement from the Cicilline for Congress campaign, Oct. 23, 2012. Accessed Oct. 24, 2012.

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U.S. Rep. David Cicilline says he voted for tougher laws against child abusers, domestic abusers, when he was a Rhode Island state representative

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