Protecting children from sexual predators - JuniperCivic.com
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Originally published in the April 1998 Juniper Berry Magazine

Protecting children from sexual predators

FIVE-YEAR OLD BOY MOLESTED BY TEACHER

SIX-YEAR OLD RAPED BY PAROLEE WITH SEXUALLY VIOLENT HISTORY

FOUR-YEAR OLD SEXUALLY ABUSED BY NEIGHBOR

Far too often headlines such as these grace the cover of our daily papers or are the lead story on the nightly news. How do we stop these heinous crimes? Lock the children in the homes? Not allow them to play in the park? No, children need to play with friends outside the home, ride their bicycles, play ball, etc. The answer is stop the individuals that are hurting our children.

Two years ago, I passed legislation entitled the continual Course of Sexual Conduct Against a Child, the large step in stopping the sexual abuse of children. Prior to the enactment of this law, if a child was sexually abused they had to remember the date of each abuse and the specific sexual act that occurred on that date. They also had a five year period with which to report it or the abuser went free!

Child victims of sexual abuse are too often violated by people with whom they have an ongoing relationship. Unfortunately the abuse sometimes occurs over a long period of time. This long-term abuse makes it difficult for the victim to remember specific details. Therefore the more a child was abused, the less of a chance that the perpetrator would be convicted. The Continual Course of Sexual Conduct Against a Child law corrected these injustices making it easier for prosecutors in this State to obtain convictions against pedophiles. Abuse must still be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, however the new law removed the criminal statute requiring young victims to remember specific dates and instances of each separate event of long-term abuse. Additionally, it lengthened the statue of limitations for the prosecution of child abuse to five years past a victim's 18th birthday.

I am continuing my campaign against sexual abuse in New York State by carrying the Civil Confinement bill. This law will keep violent sexual predators in a secured facility if it is determined that they will continue to abuse when they are released from jail.

Last year, in Kansas v. Hendricks, the United States Supreme Court established that the civil confinement of sexually violent predators is Constitutional. Under the Supreme court ruling, commitment under the Act depends upon a diagnosis that the individual poses a danger to society based on his or her prior history of sexually violent behavior and on evidence of a current mental condition that renders the individual most likely to repeatedly victimize. The Kansas Law has become the prototype for New York's civil confinement legislation.

Studies have proven that violent sex offenders, including those who have served time in jail, usually engage in repeated acts of predatory sexual violence.

Almost ten years prior to the enactment of Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Law, a man by the name of Leroy Hendricks pled guilty to sexually molesting two thirteen year old boys, and received a prison sentence of five to twenty years. This conviction marked the end of Hendricks' more than twenty five years of sexually abusing children. Beginning in 1955, Hendricks pled guilty to indecent exposure for exposing his genitals to two young girls.

1957 – convicted of lewd behavior involving a teenage girl;

1960 – imprisoned for molesting two young boys;

1963 – arrested for molesting a seven-year-old girl;

1967 – imprisoned for sexually assaulting a young boy and a young girl;

1972 – after being released on parole, he sexually abused his stepchildren over the course of four years.

Just prior to the expiration of Hendricks' sentence for sexually molesting the thirteen-year-old boys, the District Attorney petitioned to have him committed under Kansas Violent Sexual Predator Act. At the trial, which would decide whether or not to civilly commit Hendricks, the defendant himself testified that he was a pedophile and is unable to control his urges to engage in sexual activity with young children. Unanimously, the jury decided that Hendricks was a sexually violent predator and remanded into custody.

This year, I am doing everything possible to ensure that our society is protected against sexual perpetrators by guaranteeing that they are not simply released back into our communities after committing a violent sexual crime. Rather, they should be confined to a secured facility where they will receive long-term, intensive treatment and can no longer pose a threat to innocent people. Passage of the Civil Confinement bill by New York State is vital to the future welfare of our citizens. It places the priority on public safety and not the rights of sexual predators like Leroy Hendricks.