MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Mid-South grandfather is behind bars accused of raping a child relative who is mentally disabled.
Willie Triplett faces statutory rape by an authority figure charges.
As the law stands now, if convicted, Triplett could serve anywhere from 3 to 15 years in prison.
Tennessee State Senator Mark Nork Norris said if the 58-year-old is convicted, he is likely to serve only a few years.
Norris told WREG most family members, teachers, coaches and counselors who are convicted of statutory rape serve the bare minimum which is three years.
Norris fears when those statutory rapists get out of jail, they will assault another child.
“It’s hard to deter a pervert. There’s another form of deterrence. That’s lock them up, put them away so can’t do this again,” said Norris.
There’s now hope in Tennessee for kids victimized by people they are supposed to be able to trust.
This legislative session, Norris sponsored a bill that toughens the law when the rapist is more than four years older than the underage victim.
The new bill carries more weight, forcing offenders to serve between 8 and 30 years behind bars.
“It’s a small step in the direction of deterrence. Maybe it will save a life or prevent the ruination of a life,” said Norris.
Norris said it’s heartbreaking that these violent crimes against even happen, but he’s thankful lawmakers are on board to do something to help them.
Norris sponsored the bill initially, to crack down on teachers and coaches who prey on students.
It passed the Senate and House, and is now in the process of getting Governor Bill Haslam’s signature.