COAST CITIES — During the first year of Chelsea’s Law, 19 people in San Diego County have been charged under the statute that toughened penalties for sex crimes against children, according to a report released Sept. 26.
The law was named in honor of Poway teenager Chelsea King, 17, who was slain by registered sex offender John Albert Gardner III, Feb. 25, 2010. Gardner also sexually assaulted and stabbed to death Amber Dubois, 14, of Escondido.
The bill was spearheaded by Chelsea’s parents Brent and Kelly King, and authored by Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego. The bill enforces a life sentence without the possibility of parole for forcible sex acts against minors younger than 14.
Under Chelsea’s Law, Gardner’s initial crime on the 13-year-old would have made him eligible for life without the possibility of parole, said Sara Fraunces, spokesperson for Chelsea’s Light Foundation.
Chelsea’s Law took effect Sept. 9, 2010, and since then at least one person in the county faces a possible life sentence without parole under the “one strike” law, Fraunces said.
David Joseph Lascelles, 50, was arrested three months after Chelsea’s Law was enacted and is accused of raping a 15-year-old girl.
Lascelles is currently being held on $1 million bail, and according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department he is also on a state parole hold and not eligible for release.
According to Chelsea’s Light Foundation, Lascelles was the only person of the 19 arrested that faces a possible life without parole sentence. Fraunces said that Chelsea’s Light Foundation has its interest in enforcement of the law, as opposed to providing details on each of the arrestees due to the nature of the cases and to protect the victims’ identities.
A key element of Chelsea’s Law includes the “One Strike” law for those charged with violent sex crimes against children younger than 14 and carries a life sentence in prison without parole.