Kentucky state Rep. Nick Wilson, a past winner of the TV show “Survivor,” apologized for a bill meant to combat family sexual abuse that mistakenly legally allowed sex with first cousins.
“I filed HB 269 yesterday. The purpose of the bill is to add ‘sexual contact’ to the incest statute. Currently, incest only applies in cases of intercourse. So sexual touching/groping by uncles, stepdads or anyone with a familial relationship is not included in incest. My bill makes that kind of sexual contact a Class D Felony, unless the victim is under the age of 12, then it increases the penalty to a Class C Felony,” Wilson, a Republican representing District 82 covering Williamsburg, explained in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
“During the drafting process, there was an inadvertent change, which struck ‘first cousins’ from the list of relationships included under the incest statute, and I failed to add it back in. During today’s session, I will withdraw HB 269 and refile a bill with the ‘first cousin’ language intact. The fact that I was able to file a bill, catch the mistake, withdraw the bill and refile within a 24-hour period shows that we have a good system,” he said. “This is a bill to combat a problem of familial and cyclical abuse that transcends generations of Kentuckians. I understand that I made a mistake, but I sincerely hope my mistake doesn’t hurt the chances of the corrected version of the bill. It is a good bill, and I hope it will get a second chance.”
The initial bill went viral on social media and was withdrawn on Wednesday, the Kentuck General Assembly website shows.
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Nick Wilson at Tribal Council on the two-hour thirteenth episode of Survivor: Winners at War, airing Wednesday, May 6, 2020. (CBS via Getty Images)
Wilson later filed a new version of the bill adding back language barring sexual contact with a “first cousin,” as well as a parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, great-grandparent, great-grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, brother, sister, ancestor, or descendant.
“House Bill 289 adds ‘sexual contact’ to incest, applies a penalty to such conduct, and adds incest to the violent offender statute. This bill makes NO other changes to current law,” Wilson, a 33-year-old University of Kentucky graduate, wrote in another Facebook post Wednesday.
Season winner Nick Wilson attends the “Survivor: David Vs. Goliath” Finale at CBS Televison City on December 19, 2018, in Los Angeles, California. (Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
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Wilson rose to fame after winning Survivor: David vs. Goliath in 2018, and later competed in 2020’s Survivor: Winners at War.
Last March, Wilson received criticism from LGBTQ activists for voting in favor of another bill, known as SB 150, that barred sex change surgeries and other transgender medical treatment for minors.
“This is a bill that pertains only to children. This is not ‘anti-trans’ or ‘anti-LGBTIA+ legislation,’” Wilson said in a statement to People at the time. “SB150 is a bill aimed at protecting children from making life-altering decisions at too young of an age. If you’re a Kentuckian over the age of 17, then your rights are not affected by this bill whatsoever.”
Jeff Probst awards Nick Wilson with the Immunity Necklace on the two-hour season finale of Survivor David vs. Goliath, airing Wednesday, December 19, 2018. (CBS via Getty Images)
The bill was vetoed by Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, but the Republican-controlled legislature overrode the veto, allowing the measure to become law.
Amid legal efforts seeking to prevent enforcement, Republican Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron defended the law as “commonsense law protect[ing] children from the irreversible effects of experimental drug treatments like puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.” In October, Kentucky’s ban on transgender procedures for minors was upheld in federal court.
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The law also includes measures intended to prevent school administrators from hiding students’ transitions from their parents or requiring use of pronouns not in line with biological sex.