‘Survivor’ Champ Lawmaker Backtracks on Kentucky Bill Legalizing Sex Between First Cousins

‘Survivor’ Champ Lawmaker Backtracks on Kentucky Bill Legalizing Sex Between First Cousins

State Rep. Nick Wilson, a “Survivor” champion, said a filing error had resulted in first cousins being taken off the incest statute.

AJ McDougall

Nick Wilson on Survivor

Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images

A Republican state congressman in Kentucky is withdrawing and refiling a bill that accidentally struck first cousins from the list of relationships that legally qualify as incest in the state, he said on Wednesday.

Rep. Nick Wilson, best known for winning Survivor: David vs. Goliath in 2018, blamed an “inadvertent change” during the drafting process on the error. “The fact that I was able to file a bill, catch the mistake, withdraw the bill and refile within a 24 hour period shows we have a good system,” he insisted.

His bill, HB 269, was originally intended to add “sexual contact” to Kentucky’s incest statute, raising the act to a Class D Felony. The proposed removal of “first cousins” from the statute’s list of individuals who would be considered a family member—including parents, siblings, grandparents, great-grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, ancestors, and descendants—was quickly spotted and went viral across social media.

The bill was officially withdrawn on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Wilson told Louisville Public Media that he was “frustrated” by the criticism and ridicule his measure had attracted, but it would be worth it if he could get it passed.

“Obviously, the stereotypes or jokes that may come with it… it’s a little embarrassing, but I can take it if that’s what it takes for me to pass a good law and protect people, that’s fine. That’s the job I have,” Wilson said. “What I would hope is that it doesn’t lessen the importance of the actual issue I’m facing and, [if] people want to make memes or jokes, that it’s directed at me and not victims of child abuse or sexual abuse.”

The 33-year-old state congressman said in his social media statement that the bill is intended “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,” he added. “It is a good bill, and I hope it will get a second chance.”

Wilson is a first-term lawmaker who was elected to the Kentucky House last year. He is the primary sponsor of two other bills filed on Tuesday and aimed at protecting children: HB 270, which would make it a Class D felony to travel to Kentucky to engage in rape, sodomy, sex abuse, or sex trafficking; and HB 271, which would allow Kentuckians to file written reports on suspected child neglect or abuse.

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