FRANKFORT — 1 Timothy 1:8 states that “we know the law is good, if … man uses it lawfully.” In my first few weeks in office, I have worked to ensure our laws work to protect your family.
As your Attorney General, my focus is to strengthen your families and protect our children from abuse and neglect. I have partnered with both organizations and lawmakers to do just that. Specifically, I am supporting two measures currently before the Kentucky General Assembly that would better protect our children. One would close a loophole that allows certain pedophiles to stay on the streets and in our communities; the other would strengthen our fight against human trafficking.
The first measure is House Bill 109 (Rep. Joni Jenkins) and its companion measure, Senate Bill 60 (Sen. Whitney Westerfield). These bills would close a legal loophole that prevents my office – and our state prosecutors – from convicting some of our state’s worst child sex offenders. Specifically, it would create a Continuous Course of Conduct law whereby young children who have been horrifically and repeatedly abused – often by those they trust – will not have to testify in traumatic detail about the exact time, place, and circumstances of each terrible act of abuse.
The loophole was created in the Kentucky Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Ruiz vs. Commonwealth of Kentucky, where the court overturned the convictions of a man accused of sexually assaulting his six-year-old stepdaughter multiple times over a five-month period. Kentucky’s highest court ruled that the lack of the Continuous Course of Conduct law that I am seeking prevented a conviction.
The impact of this case has been devastating on our most vulnerable citizens. It is difficult for victims, especially sexually abused children, to separate the assaults by time or place because they occur with such horrific frequency and in the same places. This is especially true in children, whose ability to place events in time and to recall dates does not develop until middle childhood. With this legislation, we will pursue those that would prey on our kids.
Our other legislative initiative, House Bill 229 (Rep. Sannie Overly) would help in our fight against modern day slavery – including child sexual slavery – by allowing my office to prosecute human trafficking cases across the Commonwealth.
While Kentucky has some of the nation’s strongest human trafficking laws, only about 10 percent of child trafficking cases reported to the state have resulted in criminal investigations. And the examples are horrific, such as the foster parent who sold his foster daughter’s body for furniture. We simply do not have enough specially trained officers and prosecutors statewide to attack these complex cases.
That’s why I am asking the legislature to put me and my office to work. We are ready to help. Help me do just that by supporting these two pieces of legislation. Contact your local lawmakers at 502-564-8100 or visit www.lrc.ky.gov to find and email your legislators.
Remember, reporting child abuse is the responsibility of each and every Kentuckian. Please report any suspected abuse of a child or vulnerable adult to 877-KYSAFE1 (597-2331). If you or someone you know has been a victim of crime, contact my Office of Victims Advocacy at 502-696-5320 for information about your rights.
By partnering with me, you can make a difference in the lives of our children and most vulnerable citizens.