Republicans are making false attacks about Chris Koster’s record on domestic violence. In reality, Koster relentlessly fought to protect victims of domestic violence throughout his entire career.
FACT: As attorney general, Koster led a Domestic Violence Task Force that overhauled Missouri’s laws on domestic violence and protections for victims for the first time in 40 years years.
“We applaud the efforts of Attorney General Chris Koster and his task force on domestic violence — and hope the general assembly will take quick action to put several important recommendations into law. The changes outlined last week by Koster will hold abusers more accountable and make victims more secure.” [Springfield News-Leader Editorial, 2/16/11]
Missouri Lawyers Media Headline: “Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster Creates Group To Review Domestic Violence Laws.” [Missouri Lawyers Media, 9/1/10]
Springfield News-Leader Headline: “State AG Proposes 12 Changes To Better Protect Abuse Victims.”[Springfield News-Leader, 2/9/11]
AP: “Koster formed the task force in September to review the laws, which have not been fully updated since the 1970s. The group included prosecutors, lawmakers and advocates working to stop domestic violence, and their recommendations could help make the entire state safer, Koster said. ‘Although domestic violence may be personal, it is not private,’ he said during a news conference. ‘Domestic violence affects our homes, our schools, our businesses and our collective safety.’” [AP, 2/9/11]
FACT: The Senate passed Koster’s recommendations unanimously.
“Many of the bill’s changes follow the recommendations of a domestic violence task force created by Attorney General Chris Koster. The Senate’s 33-0 vote now sends the bill to the House.” [AP, 4/21/11; SB 320]
“Victims of domestic violence are among our state’s most vulnerable, and we owe it to them to make sure that we are working as seamlessly as possible through all aspects of our law enforcement and legal systems to protect them.” [AGO Press Release, 7/12/11]
FACT: Despite unfounded attacks that claim otherwise, Koster continued to fight against online sex trafficking after 2012.
Koster was the “lead signatory” of letter condemning internet companies like Backpage.com for profiting off sex crimes: “Frustrated by such failures, 47 state attorneys general signed a letter this summer to the leaders of the U.S. House and Senate commerce committees urging them to make a two-word tweak to the federal law to allow the prosecutions. Congress has yet to act. When ‘corporations are knowingly generating revenue from what is widely or universally viewed as criminal conduct, the (federal law) should not stand as a shield for corporate revenues,’ said Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat who was the lead signatory of the letter.” [AP, 9/28/13]
“Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is leading an effort to enact new laws on the federal level to combat child sex trafficking and prostitution. Koster has enlisted are a haven for the sex trafficking industry. Local prosecutors report that prostitution solicitations have largely moved online, Koster states. To keep up with changing technology, federal law needs to be modernized to provide local prosecutors the tools to strike back against those who promote sexual exploitation. The Communications Decency Act was enacted by Congress in 1996 to help restrict minors from accessing pornographic materials online. Koster says the purpose of the act has been stymied by federal court decisions.” [Missouri Family Council, 8/7/13]
Koster worked to amend language to allow state agencies to prosecute companies that facilitated sex crimes against children committed over the internet. “Jackley, with Chris Koster, Missouri attorney general, is asking Congress to amend the language in the act to allow state agencies to prosecute companies that facilitate sex crimes against children committed over the Internet.
“As online advertising of child prostitution goes unchecked, sex traffickers are able to expand their businesses, magnifying the scope of the problem,” Jackley and Koster wrote. [Daily Republic, 12/21/13]
FACT: As a state senator, Koster sponsored key legislation to increase penalties for sex offenders. As a prosecutor and attorney general, Koster put some of Missouri’s most dangerous offenders behind bars.
In 2006, Koster introduced legislation to increase penalties for failing to register as a sex offender: According to a press release from Koster’s office, in 2006, he introduced SB 619, which increased “penalties for sex offenders who fail to register.” [Koster press release, 5/2/ 05] SB 619 was combined with SB 588, which also created a toll-free sex offender hotline, and required health care professionals who “deliver a baby or provide an abortion” to notify authorities if they suspect their patient was a victim of sexual assault. [SB 588, Passed Senate 3/9/06]
In 2006, Koster introduced legislation to mandate lifetime probation for some first-time sex offenders: Koster also introduced SB 869, which was combined with SB 588. SB 869 provided for significant penalties for sex-related crimes. According to the bill summary, SB 869 required lifetime probation for first time offenders convicted of “forcible rape, forcible sodomy, statutory rape in the first degree, or statutory sodomy in the first degree.” [SB 869 as introduced; SB 588, Passed Senate 3/9/06]
In 2007, Koster sponsored legislation to protect confidentiality and safety of domestic abuse victims: “This act creates in the Secretary of State’s Office the “Address Confidentiality Program” for victims of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, and stalking. The program authorizes the use of designated addresses for such victims and their minor children. The Secretary of State shall promulgate rules to implement and administer this program. An adult, parent of a minor, or guardian of an incapacitated person may apply to the Secretary of State to have a designated address assigned. The Secretary may only approve applications filed properly with the office as established by rule. The application shall contain certain information, including the person’s mailing address, the applicant’s signature, and a designation of the Secretary as agent for the purpose of service of process and receipt of first-class mail, legal documents, and certified mail. The applicant must supply a sworn statement that he or she is a victim of violence and fears further violent acts from his or her assailant. The applicant must also supply addresses that he or she does not want disclosed because it will jeopardize the applicant’s safety.” [SB 366, 8/28/07]
In 2007, Koster sponsored legislation to up mandatory minimums for sex offenders who faily to register: “This act requires any person who pleads guilty to or is found guilty of a felony to serve a term of imprisonment of not less than three years if he or she was required to register as a sex offender at the time of the offense and failed to do so in violation of Section 589.425, RSMo.” [SB 278, 8/28/07]
Koster secured a life sentence for a man who shot and killed his fiancée: “Brent Curtis Schwertz has been sentenced to life in prison without any possibility of parole or probation for the first-degree murder charge filed against him in the death of Tracy Louise Weber, who was fatally shot on Feb. 11, 2010. 25th Circuit Court Judge William E. Hickle handed down the sentence Wednesday morning. First-degree murder is a Class A felony and capital offense, under Missouri state statutes. In addition, Schwertz also was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the charge of armed criminal action. The sentences will be served concurrently. ‘Life without the possibility of probation or parole is appropriate in a case involving such a grievous act of domestic violence and murder,’ said Attorney General Chris Koster, whose office prosecuted the case. ‘My hope is that this sentence can bring a small degree of closure to the family and friends of Tracy Weber,’ Koster said.” [Rolla Daily News, 8/28/13]