A total of 19 people in San Diego County have been charged under Chelsea's Law, a year-old set of legal reforms designed to further protect minors from violent sexual offenders, according to a report released Tuesday.
The law, named in honor of slain Poway High School senior Chelsea King, was signed into law on Sept. 9, 2010. It was created and championed by the family of the murdered 17-year-old, in collaboration with 75th District Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, R-San Diego, who authored and advanced the law with bipartisan support.
The statute has three main components: enhanced criminal sentencing, including a life-without-parole option, for violent sexual offenders who commit forcible sex crimes against children; mandated lifetime parole enforced with GPS monitoring; and creation of "safe zones" that prohibit sex offenders released from prison from visiting places where children congregate.
The prosecutions of those charged under the law in the San Diego area are at various stages, from recent filing to completed trials, according to the report from Chelsea's Light Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group that seeks strengthened protections against sex predators who target children.
The alleged victims in the 19 cases range in age from toddler to teenager.
Chelsea was raped and strangled in February 2010 by a registered sex offender who grabbed her as she was taking an after-school jog at a Rancho Bernardo Park near Lake Hodges. He has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.
In response to the initial 12-month results of Chelsea's Law, Fletcher, who is running for mayor of San Diego, said it was "comforting to see that the actions of an amazing family and committed community that came together to pass (the legislation) are being put to use by our law enforcement community to protect children."
"Out of this terrible tragedy came something good -- a reformed public-safety system that, based on this report, can show quantifiable progress towards making our community safer," he said.
Chelsea's Light Foundation will continue to monitor the prosecutions of those charged in the San Diego region under the year-old law and is working to prepare similar progress reviews in other California counties, according to the report.
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