Laws Created More Child Sex Abuse Crimes; Still More Needs to Change

By Assemblyman Will Barclay
We hear about cases on the news and we see mug shots of those who are charged or convicted of some heinous child sex abuse act.

There is no excuse for these perpetrators and sickens the majority of us who have to read these stories. The good thing about these news stories is that when we see them reported, we know our law enforcement is catching more of these types of perpetrators.

In recent decades, our state and federal laws have improved, and reflect our desire to better protect kids.  Law enforcement is equipped to charge and better prosecute sex offenders.

There is however, more that can be done.

As technology changes, our laws also need to adapt. I signed onto legislation which will soon be introduced to the Assembly that will criminalize the use of electronic devices to sexually lure a minor.

Adult predators use computers, iPhones, and other smart phones to lure underage minors to gain their trust and pursue them sexually. Investigators often find that once they determine a device has been used to pursue a victim, it is much more likely that there are other victims out there.

This bill will enable the police to obtain a search warrant to determine if in fact there are other victims out there. Once they establish this evidence, the perpetrator can then be charged with multiple crimes.

Law enforcement officials say the majority of predators caught are not first-time offenders.

According to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services site, in 2009, there were 2,091 cases of documented abuse in Oswego County. In Jefferson County, there were 1,776 cases and in Onondaga County, there were 5,271 cases. Experts say many more of these types of cases go unreported.

It is important that we keep drawing attention to this topic, as in many cases, the abuse is pervasive and, unfortunately, committed by trusted friends or family. According to a 2003 National Institute of Justice report, as many as 3 out of 4 adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well.

Studies suggest that in recent years, people are more likely to report abuse.

This is part in thanks to society being more aware of these crimes. I have urged the Governor, along with my Assembly colleagues, to declare April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in New York State. These declarations remind us that there are still young victims who need help and protection.

I want to remind you that if you see abuse or suspect it, you may call 1-800-342-3720, a hotline managed by New York State Office of Children and Family Services.

I have also signed onto legislation that requires when a call made to the Statewide Central Register for Child Abuse and Maltreatment is made by a mandated reporter who works in a hospital (such as a physician, registered nurse, physician’s assistant, social worker, psychologist or other hospital personnel working with a patient) or by a law enforcement official – such calls shall not be screened.

Rather, they would immediately be made into a report of abuse and transmitted to the appropriate local social services district for investigation.

Currently, mandatory reporters are required to also dial the above 1-800 number and report suspected abuse.

The State Central Registry screens these calls; however, this bill would eliminate the state’s screening process for the aforementioned callers and refer suspected abuse to the local authorities immediately. From there, an investigation is supposed to be launched.

This bill has a long history and has passed the Senate several times, but has died in the Assembly Committee of Children and Families. It is unclear to me why the Assembly Democrat Majority refuses to put this bill to a vote. I am hopeful this bill can pass both houses and be signed into law this year.

In many of these cases, fast action is required and eliminating a state screening process will allow the local authorities to receive reports sooner and, presumably, act faster.

The bill would also establish better protocols among mandated reporters, medical, and law enforcement who respond to reports of abuse. If we can improve protocols, we can better ensure more children’s safety and prevent further abuse and even tragedy.

Another bill I’ve signed on to would require the sex offender registry maintain up-to-date information and list all sexual offenses for which the offender has been convicted. The Sex Offender Registry is a good tool the public can use to determine where sex offenders live.

However, while the current registry holds much valuable information on sex offenders, it does not always include all sexual offenses.

Currently, the registry only lists their most recent offense.

For example, if a person was convicted of third degree sexual abuse and first degree rape in two separate incidences, only the most recent crime would appear in the registry and the public would have no way to know about the prior rape conviction.

This bill would make it so all prior convictions, which require registration in the sex offender registry, be listed in the registry.

The laws we have in place do work to protect our children, but as I said earlier, our laws need to adapt to technology and create protocols that help even more kids by using the resources we have in place.

I’m hopeful that some of these changes can be made this legislative session.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.

You may also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.

1 Comment

  1. Let me say that injustice is the condition or practice of being unjust or unfair. Even a fool knows when they are being treated unfairly and unjustly.

    The Adam Walsh Act (AWA) should have never been passed by Congress or signed into law by President Bush.

    AWA, Megan’s Law, the Wetterling Act, Florida’s – Lunsford Act and 42 other states with similar law all go too far, not to mention SORNA, and all the conditions of sex offender registrations restrictions even after time served.

    The stigma associated with these laws, for the most part, eliminate the possibility of protecting adults and children from sex offenders and destroys all and any motivation for any similar type of offender rehabilitation. Furthermore, in many instances, not only are the offenders punished for a lifetime but their families are punished along with the offenders exceedingly harsh punishment and restrictions.

    Even though our Supreme Court rules that Sex Offender Registration is a civil issue and therefore not a criminal issue which makes all and any further restrictions, after time served, not additional punishment is absurd and far from hypocritical, sanctimoniously deception. You have to be an idiot to accept the Supreme Court’s argument. As for the frosting on this cake; Constitutional Law ie; freedom of speech, freedom of movement and travel, and freedom to choose where to make your home, freedom from exploited ex post facto law, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment and more are denied the offender and often their families after time served.

    It seems to me that rather than increase sex offender penalties , whatever that means or entails, a much needed emphasis requires and demands consideration to sex offender therapy with the offender absorbing the financial burden for treatment which is quite costly but worth every penny.

    I know of one state that requires weekly group therapy with a 2 year minimum participation as part of the courts sentencing. The offender is introduced to established sex offender therapy guidelines. The therapist teaches and instructs the offender through group therapy by addressing issues of offending that demands use of a workbook, requiring a serious homework format in written assignments that must be completed and discussed in therapy, as well as, additional book assignments and discussion to further educate the offender.

    Should an offender not participate they are considered non compliant and then are returned to prison for violation of parole or probation by not honoring their sentence, imposed by the court, to complete their sentencing or have additional prison time applied to their standing sentence. A continued refusal to participate meaningfully could keep an offender in prison for life.

    Most offenders, while addressing issues of their offense spend easily up to 4 plus years in therapy that include intensive polygraphs and so much more keeping everyone legitimate.

    It is not widely known that offenders completing therapy are less likely to offend by a considerable percentage margin..

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