Repeat Sexual Predator Prevention Act (HB 301/SB 270 and HB 353/SB 298)
As much as our skilled forensic interviewers and supportive family advocates help children describe, in credible narrative detail, what happened to them, a young child is often no match for a wily defense lawyer and a skeptical jury. “Kids lie!” says the lawyer. And even though studies show very few children lie about child abuse, juries often side with the adults. Because of Maryland’s tight evidence rules, juries rarely get to hear what the child and lawyers know: that the abuser did the same thing to other children. The Maryland legislature has refused to change this law since at least 2004, but the Repeat Sexual Predator Prevention Act would give Maryland prosecutors the ability to introduce evidence of other sex crimes in sex offense cases involving serial offenders. With every year this legislation isn’t passed, more and more Maryland women, children, and men become victims of repeat sexual predators and child molesters. Delegates in the House and Senate and the Governor’s office are backing this year’s bills. #TimesUp!
Penalties for failure to report known child abuse – HB 500/SB 132
Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to come forward about Larry Nasser, wrote in the New York Times that, even more staggering than the 200 girls he abused, was the 14 coaches and officials who KNEW about his abuse and let it continue. Maryland is no different. Recent news reports show a principal in Prince George’s County ignored multiple reports by adults and children, plus photos, that school volunteer Deonte Carraway was abusing little boys at her school. During the trial of a sex predator in Montgomery County, it came out that the school system issued several reprimands, but let the charismatic teacher abuse little girls in his care FOR YEARS. Every year, more such reports become public. There is a gap in Maryland’s current mandatory reporting laws that allows the enablers to escape accountability.
Mandatory Training for Child Abuse Reporters- SB 131
All front-line professionals such as educators, health and mental health practitioners, law enforcement personnel, and youth-serving workers in Maryland have a legal duty to report child abuse. Yet Maryland has no statewide requirement that mandated reporters be trained. The result is a patchwork of knowledge that varies drastically by profession and by employer. One result of these gaps in knowledge is that, year after year, many mandated reporters in Maryland simply fail to report child abuse.
Human Trafficking Victim Protection Act (SB327, HB266; 2011)
The Act authorizes a person convicted of prostitution to vacate the judgement on the grounds of human trafficking. It provides for the expungement of records relating to the prostitution charge. The offender may provide restitution to the victim for expenses occurred as a result of the crime.
Children in Need of Assistance and Child Abuse and Neglect – Sexual Abuse – Definition (HB860, SB1082; 2012)
The bill alters the definition of “sexual abuse” to include actions relating to human trafficking, obscene material, pornography, and prostitution.
Family Law – Preventing or Interfering with Report of Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect (SB534, HB631; 2013)
With the passage of this bill, intentionally preventing or interfering with the making of a report of suspected child abuse or neglect is guilty of a misdemeanor and can be subjected to five years in prison and/or up to a $10,000 fine. It also requires that mandatory reporters employed by the State, who suspect or have reason to believe that child abuse or neglect has occurred, report their suspicions to the local department or law enforcement agency.
Criminal Law – Human Trafficking – Affirmative Defense (SB0520, HB0456; 2015)
This bill allows for affirmative defense of duress if the defendant who committed the act as a result of being a victim of another person who has been charged with human trafficking. If a person has been trafficked and commits a crime under that duress, the defense can be used if notice is given to the State’s Attorney within 10 days prior to trial.
Education – Sexual Abuse and Assault Awareness and Prevention Program – Development and Implementation (Erin’s Law) (HB72; 2016)
Erin’s Law requires the State Board of Education and certain nonpublic schools to develop and implement age appropriate programs designed to prevent child sexual abuse and child sexual assault. Such a program provides children in grades pre-K-12 grade with preventative strategies and will give them the tools and language necessary to report potential abuse. It also helps to increase awareness among parents and guardians, making them better able to identify signs of child sexual abuse. Additionally, the Law provides caregivers with needed assistance, referral or resource information to support sexually abused children and their families.
Family Law-Child Abuse and Neglect-Definitions (HB1263, SB996; 2017)
This bill alters the definition of “abuse” include the physical or mental injury of a child by a person who, because of the person’s position or occupation, exercises authority over the child under certain circumstances. (HB 1263, Chapter 651, 2017)
Child Abuse-Sex Trafficking (Protecting Victims of Sex Trafficking Act of 2017)
The Protecting Victims of Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 changes the definition of “sexual abuse” in law relating to child abuse to include the sex trafficking of a child by any individual. This bill also defines the terms “sexual molestation or exploitation” and “sex trafficking”.