Madam Speaker, in the early morning hours of March 2, 1998, 10 years ago, Patrick Kennedy of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, called 911 to report that his 8-year-old stepdaughter had been dragged from her garage to the side yard and raped by two neighborhood boys. Kennedy told the 911 operator that he saw one of the boys riding away from the house on a bicycle, so a sheriff's deputy that was immediately in the area responded to the complaint and started looking for the culprit, but he did not find the individual.
The deputy noticed that the crime scene in the backyard was somehow inconsistent with rape, and he noticed that the dog was still sleeping undisturbed in the grass. Be that as it may, Kennedy led the deputy to the victim, his stepdaughter's bedroom, where she was lying on the bed wearing a T-shirt and wrapped in a filthy, bloody cargo blanket.
Kennedy informed the deputy that he had carried his stepdaughter like an infant from the yard and placed her in a bathtub to clean her. But the deputy noticed there was no blood on Kennedy's clothes.
When the deputy tried to question the victim, Kennedy constantly interrupted and answered the questions for his stepdaughter. The victim said that she was trying to sell Girl Scout cookies when the two neighborhood boys dragged her from the garage and raped her on the grass nearby.
The victim was taken to Children's Hospital for emergency surgery to repair serious injuries to her body. At the hospital, the victim told hospital personnel and a psychologist that the two neighborhood boys had raped her, but she finally told a family member that Patrick Kennedy, her stepfather, had assaulted her.
The investigation began to focus on Kennedy because his story did not make any sense to the investigators. And then the police learned more about Patrick Kennedy and who he was. Before he called 911, Kennedy called his boss at a local moving company to say he wasn't going to work that morning and he asked a co-worker how to get blood out of a carpet. The co-worker later indicated at trial that Kennedy sounded nervous, and he said his stepdaughter had "just become a young lady."
Kennedy also called B&B Carpet Cleaning at 7:30, 2 hours before the 911 call, and he asked how to clean and remove blood stains from a carpet. Police then found a 1-gallon jug of carpet cleaner and the bloody towels Kennedy used to clean up his crime and hide the evidence.
A forensic lab confirmed that the victim had no grass or soil stains on her clothes so she could not have been assaulted in the grass. The victim later told her mother that Kennedy had raped her. At the trial, she testified that when she woke up that morning, he was on top of her, covering her eyes with his hands, and that he raped her in her own bed. The victim said she fainted and later threw up.
A jury convicted Patrick Kennedy of aggravated rape of his own 8-year-old stepdaughter and sentenced him to death in Louisiana. Under Louisiana law, a person who commits sexual assault of a child under the age of 12 is subject to the death penalty. Kennedy has appealed to the Supreme Court, and next week in Kennedy v. Louisiana, the Supreme Court will hear the case and decide if rape of a child is constitutional under the eighth amendment and whether it violates the cruel and unusual punishment provision of the eighth amendment.
No one has been executed in the United States for a crime other than murder since 1964. Of 3,000 inmates on death row, only two face the death penalty for nonhomicide, and one is Patrick Kennedy.
In addition to Louisiana, Georgia, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas have laws allowing death penalty for rape of a child. In 1977, the Supreme