We tried to help Albo

Your article on the new political action committee, Virginia Family Values, [January 6: "Whose values? Lefty PAC fights for families"] mentioned our fight to stop Delegate Dave Albo from lowering penalties for child sexual abuse, but we'd like to correct his misrepresentations.

The National Association to Protect Children, Protect, did oppose Albo last year on his legislation, H.B. 1054 (not H.B. 1053, as the article stated).

The original text of Albo's bill would have drastically lowered the penalties for molesting children. It added intercourse, sodomy, and other extreme forms of abuse to the list of acts covered by the crime of "taking indecent liberties with a child by a person in custodial or supervisory relationship" (a minor, class-6 felony).

The bill's original language would have made an outrageous situation even worse. How outrageous? Under current Virginia law, child molesters already receive preferential treatment if their victim is their own child or a child in their care.

A father, step-father, coach, minister, or teacher who commits "indecent liberties" by propositioning or fondling children ages 0-18 can get off with a fine or probation. And if Albo's original bill had become law, those same people violating children ages 0-18 might have received this same low sentence for child rape, sodomy, or other serious crimes.

Under pressure from Protect and a coalition of Virginia citizens, Albo backed down. He now claims that not a single attorney in Richmond could make heads or tails of this criticism. Nevertheless, Albo understood us well enough to remove every last word of the language we opposed when he discovered that Protect was a political lobby, not a charity.

Grier Weeks, Executive Director
National Association to Protect Children