Sunday, February 23, 2014

Open Letter to Delegate Kathleen Dumais Re: SB 460/Sexual Abuse

Delegate Dumais: I was forwarded an email in which you made the following statement:

We have not been able to pass a bill because some of our colleagues in the General Assembly are concerned about criminalizing sexual conduct when a “person in authority” and a 16- or 17-year old are close in age.

Can you please list the names of the colleagues in the General Assembly who have this concern?

I realize you think that citizens may be confused about this proposal, but as a lawyer myself, I assure you that I am completely capable of understanding the complexities. And as the parent of a young adult with an intellectual/developmental disability, I suspect that many of your "colleagues" have not considered the scenario where a person of authority preys on a teenager with an intellectual or developmental disability. You may not realize yourself that up to 90% of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities will experience sexual abuse in their lifetime.

Here in Montgomery County, I am aware of at least two instances of sexual abuse of youth with ID/DD among my friends' children, which were not prosecuted because the perpetrators claimed the victim "consented." By including this additional loophole in the law, you are opening the floodgates to increased sexual abuse of youth with intellectual disability and/or developmental disability by teachers, coaches, and paraeducators who happen to be within the 7 year limit.

Again, please let me know the names of your colleagues in the General Assembly who are "concerned" about criminalizing sexual conduct when a "person in authority" and a 16-17 year old are close in age. Perhaps they, and you, need to be educated about the risk this language poses to youth with disabilities.

Lyda Astrove

2 comments:

If your comment does not appear in 24 hours, please send your comment directly to our e-mail address:
parentscoalitionmc AT outlook.com