Following rape comments, Stickland and key allies are sharply attacked for votes


Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford

Following revelations that Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, said publicly in 2008 that “Rape is non existent in marriage,” some of the votes that he and his closest allies have taken in the Texas House about sexual assault are under fresh scrutiny.

A full-court press by Republicans against Tea Party incumbents began in the Metroplex on Thursday because the tiny group of Tea Party-backed lawmakers who voted against a crackdown on sexual predators last year are concentrated in North Texas.

House Bill 189, which extends the statute of limitations for civil suits against alleged sex offenders, was overwhelmingly supported by Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate. The bill also eliminated any statute of limitations in criminal sexual assault cases in which there is “probable cause that the defendant committed the same or similar crime against five or more victims.”

The final vote in the House was not unanimous.

Those voting “nay” were Reps. Matt Rinaldi, Matt Schaefer, Jonathan Stickland, Tony Tinderholt, and Cecil Bell. That was on the conference committee report that was later signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott. Stickland, Rinaldi, and Schaefer had also previously voted no on third reading. Under the Texas Constitution, bills must be voted on numerous times in both the House and Senate before they can become law.

On Thursday, the GOP primary opponents of Stickland, Tinderholt, and Rinaldi all said the votes were an embarrassment to the communities where their campaigns are now heating up.

“Before this reform passed the Republican Texas legislature and was signed by Governor Abbott, all a rapist had to do to shield himself from paying for his crime was to force his victim to keep her mouth shut 10 years from the date of the offense,” said Fisher, who is Stickland’s opponent on the March ballot. “The idea that a predator could use subtle pressure to keep a victim quiet to avoid paying is a nightmare,” Fisher said. “I don’t know how he justifies it.”

There was no immediate comment from Stickland, who has said that he regrets his previous comments about marital rape.

Stickland, Rinaldi, Tinderholt, and Schaefer all employ Luke Macias as their consultant and spokesman. Macias said he was looking into the issue. Rep. Rinaldi later said the criticism amounted to “crazy opportunistic political attacks.”

Former Rep. Bennett Ratliff, who is running against Rep. Rinaldi in the Republican primary, said “Bill Cosby was arrested yesterday for an alleged sexual assault that happened 11 years ago and Rinaldi apparently believes that Cosby and those like him should have no fear of being forced to pay for such crimes in Texas.”

Ratliff pointed out that the group that voted no was small and “One (Stickland) is an object of international scorn for his revealed comment about marital rape, and the other’s then-Chief of Staff was just arrested for soliciting a 12-year-old girl for sex over the internet.”

Ratliff was referring to Rep. Schaefer’s former Chief of Staff Judd Quarles, who was recently arrested on charges of soliciting a minor under 14 years old in East Texas. Rep. Schaefer has no primary opponent, by the way. Neither does Rep. Bell.

Tinderholt’s Republican opponent Andrew Piel in Arlington similarly asked the incumbent for an explanation.

“I stand with every husband and father in Texas who is appalled by Representative Tinderholt’s vote,” Piel said. “He must explain why he would support the interests of pedophiles and violent rapists at the expense of their victims, many of whom suffer mentally and physically for many years after the assault.”

Copyright December 31, 2015, Harvey Kronberg,, All rights are reserved. Reprinted with permission. 

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