Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Guest Post: Do members of the MD Senate think that coaches never sexually abuse and sexually assault minors in Maryland?

The following is in response to Senator Karen Montgomery's e-mail to the Parents' Coalition suggesting that parents and child advocates come back next year to advocate for legislation that will protect students from sexual predators.

We note that Senator Montgomery mentions that any problems with Senate Bill 460 should be taken up next year.  She does not acknowledge that there will be hearings on cross filed bills where the public can petition legislators about significant problems with the Senate version of the bill. These problems can  be taken up in a conference committee this year.  She does not acknowledge that the House Judiciary Committee amendments provide far more protections than the the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee (JPR) Amendments  in House Bill 781, Senate Bill 460's cross filed bill.  She does not explain why this must be the case. While it is true that Senators rightly deleted a proposed provision concerning the seven year gap and allowed  part-time employees to be penalized for the first time since 2006 after the Senate's JPR struck part-time employees from the House bill that year, a heinous case had to occur causing unnecessary harm to a 14 year-old before they would legislate a common sense provision. This child waited until it was too late.

Instead of following Senator Montgomery's advice to take up problems with the Senate's JPR amendments before the session ends, parents and other citizens concerned with the safety and protection of children should ask the following questions of the members of the Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee including its Chairman, Brian Frosh, and the sponsor of SB 460, Jaime Raskin :

  • Why must children and their parents wait until next year instead of solving these problems in a conference committee?  Why won't the Senate's Judicial Proceeding Committee agree to reconsider its decision to exclude necessary protections in HB 781 which passed the House 129 to 0? Does Senator Montgomery's comments reflect the views of Senator Frosh?   If so, will the Senator retaliate by refusing to go to conference and then kill the bill as the Senate's JPR did last year?
  • What public policy demands the Senate's JPR refusal to conform SB 460 to an amendment in HB 781 which would allow prosecutors to charge child sexual abuse which is a felony as well as separately charge a violation of the Position of Authority (POA) law which is a misdemeanor when an educator violates both laws.   Was it to make sure that defense attorneys could pressure prosecutors to accept plea bargains to a misdemeanor rather than a felony? If an educator sexually assaults a child in school it is a felony.  If an educator engages in the same behavior with the same child off-campus off time, it is a misdemeanor. If an an educator commits both types of crimes, why does the Senate's JPR want to continue to prevent legitimate prosecutions of both crimes? 
  • Why did the Senate's JPR refuse to conform SB 460 to an amendment in HB 781 that would have raised the current penalty from imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or a fine not exceeding $ 1000 or both to the penalty approved by the House of Delegates, imprisonment not exceeding 5 years or a fine not exceeding $1000.  Why does the Senate's JPR think that the current penalty is proportionate to this serious crime so that it cannot even be increased minimally?  Indeed, if the same criminal behavior is a felony in school, why should the Senate's JPR reward clever molesters or child rapists by permitting them to get away with a misdemeanor rather than a felony merely because of the location perpetrators choose to commit these sexual crimes?   This makes no sense.
  • Why did the Senate's JPR refuse to include an amendment requested by the Montgomery County Board of Education to include administrators and Board members  who may not supervise a child, but may hold sway over a child because of their positions?
  • Why did the Senate's JPR refuse to include those who work or volunteer in sports and recreational programs who supervise minors under the purview of the legislation as did the House of Delegates?  Do members of the Senate's JPR think that coaches, for example, never sexually abuse and sexually assault minors in Maryland?  Why have other states responded to the Sandusky case by strengthening their laws?  Why has the Senate's JPR ignored this case along with other cases in Maryland which prove that this is a child protection problem here in Maryland?  Mark Hartill, a foremost expert on sexual abuse in sports has stated: " If the sex abuse conviction of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky did one thing, it was to shatter the assumption that organized sports is an oasis where the well-being of children are always assured." Why doesn't his statement appear to have had an impact on the members of the of Judicial Proceedings Committee?

1 comment:

  1. They climb the ranks via the act of election, but when they chose the words they seem to lack the art of selection.


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