Just one day after Lee County man Richard McDade was acquitted on charges of a decade of child sexual abuse, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill that would have allowed into evidence reportedly damning secret recordings made by his accuser as a teenager.
HB 7001, sponsored by the House Criminal Justice panel and state Reps. Carlos Trujillo, Jared Moskowitz and Ben Albritton, was promoted heavily by abuse victims’ advocacy group Lauren’s Kids — founded and chaired by Lauren Book, who praised the governor’s final approval of the bill Friday morning in a news release.
Book, herself an abuse survivor and the daughter of lobbyist Ron Book, went on to say that the recordings that led a jury to convict McDade before that ruling was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court — which with its opinion undoing McDade’s conviction, suggested the Legislature pass a bill like HB 7001 — were all the difference both times he faced a jury.
“This new law signifies real hope for children whose voices have been silenced. I thank Governor Scott and the members of the Florida Senate and House of Representatives for helping child sexual abuse victims bring their abusers to justice and for giving children a voice.”
Benacquisto also issued a statement to mark the occasion of the bill’s enshrinement.
“It is a travesty of justice that Richard McDade was able to manipulate loopholes in the law to once again walk the streets. I pray for the victim and her family at this difficult time,” the Fort Myers Republican said Friday.
“My hope is that by passing SB 541/HB 7001 we will give victims the voice in our courts that this young girl was stripped of yesterday. As long as I am in office I will seek to make Florida a tougher place for the Richard McDades of the world. I thank Governor Scott for signing this important bill into law.”