Thursday, March 27, 2014

Will the Maryland General Assembly do everything in their power to protect children when they are with teachers, coaches, and volunteers?

On March 26, 2014, the Maryland House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to review bills from the Senate side of the General Assembly.  Included in the bills reviewed was Senator Jamie Raskin's Senate Bill 460 - Criminal Law - Person in Position of Authority.
This hearing also permitted public comment on these bills.  The purpose of the public comment was to speak to the House Committee about the differences between the Senate version and the House version of the bill.     

House Judiciary Committee
Conform SB 460 to HB 781
Criminal Law – Person in Position of Authority – Sexual Offenses with a Minor
March 26, 2014

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on conforming Senate Bill 460 to House Bill 781.

My name is Janis Zink Sartucci and I am a member of the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland.

Is the proposed legislation important to Maryland children? That's the question that is before this Committee.

Since May of 2012 there have been 8 arrests of Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) teachers and staff on charges relating to the sexual abuse of students. One defendant was found not guilty on all counts and two defendants have yet to go to trial. All of the other cases have resulted in guilty verdicts.

And, then there is this September 2012 opinion from an Administrative Law Judge that was released as part of a Maryland State Board of Education Opinion (MD State BOE Opinion 12-34) that stated, "...MCPS continued for fifteen years to employ a teacher who had been found responsible for indicated child abuse."
These are real life cases of sexual offenses by Persons in a Position of Authority. We don't have to imagine what this proposed legislation is about, we have first hand, recent knowledge of incidences where students have been sexually abused by a Person in a Position of Authority. It's not a what if, it's real life.

The question before you today is how much do you want to protect children? Do you want to close loop holes or do you want to leave a few out there for future perpetrators? The House bill provides protection for children from teachers, part-time teachers, coaches, and volunteers. The Senate version of the bill only protects students from teachers. Why is the Senate willing to gamble that children will only be molested by full time and part-time teachers? Let's make the bill do it's job and protect children from all of the Persons in Positions of Authority that they encounter in their daily lives.

The 2014 legislative session is drawing to a close and will be complete before the upcoming trials of Montgomery County Public Schools teacher Lawrence Joynes take place. Mr. Joynes was denied bail and is currently being held in Montgomery County. You all probably haven't read the charging documents in those cases. I have. What is coming are two trials involving this MCPS teacher that have the potential for National media coverage as one of the trials involves the sexual abuse of 6 and 7 year old MCPS students in a MCPS classroom during the school day.
  • One trial involves 10 counts of allegations of rape, child abuse and sexual abuse of an Eastern Middle School student over 2 years from 1991 to 1993 by MCPS teacher Lawrence Joynes. Mr. Joynes remained in MCPS classrooms for another 20 years.
  • The second trial involves allegations of the creation of pornographic videos using 6 and 7 year old MCPS students in this MCPS teachers' music classroom during the school day. The Internet has created a whole new industry where videos of children can be photoshopped and turned into pornographic videos that are distributed around the world. Not only are our children now vulnerable to sexual abuse by Persons in a Position of Authority, but in addition, they are vulnerable to the manipulation of their photoshopped images that can become images of sexual abuse that are transferred around the world. There are 29 counts in this matter including allegations of child pornography and sex abuse of minors by this MCPS teacher.

These trials are scheduled to take place before the November elections. Will Montgomery County voters, State voters and the Nation see that when the Maryland legislature was in session our Delegates and Senators did everything in their power to provide the utmost protection for children, or will they see that the legislature left Maryland children vulnerable to more loopholes that allow Persons in a Position of Authority to sexually abuse them without the maximum criminal consequences?

Are our children safe when they are in the custody of others? That's the question that will be on parents' minds when the trials of Lawrence Joynes take place. Will the Nation see that Maryland is doing everything possible to protect children from Persons in Positions of Authority?

1 comment:

  1. Sadly, based on the legislature's long track record on this issue, this has become a rhetorical question.
    However, reminding them of the pending elections may make them pay attention to the issue.


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