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Senator John A. DeFrancisco (R-I-C, Syracuse) today co-sponsored a bill in the New York State Senate, the “Protect Our Children Act,” (S5862) that would make sweeping, comprehensive changes to the state’s child protection laws.

In the wake of Caylee Anthony’s tragic murder case, where Caylee went missing, unreported by her own mother, for 31 days, these new measures would ensure that parents or guardians who do not report missing children in a timely manner will face consequences,”  said Senator DeFrancisco. 

Among the more than two dozen provisions of this legislation, the “Protect Our Children Act” would create the new crime of aggravated murder of a child with a sentence of life without parole.

In addition, the bill would expand an existing law of aggravated abuse of a child, which makes it a crime when someone recklessly causes physical injury to a child under the age of 14. The law currently applies only to day care providers, but this bill would expand it to also apply to parents, guardians or a person in a position of trust.

Other provisions of the bill would:

- Create a new felony for concealing the death of a child. A death of a child is profoundly tragic, and the concealment of such not only could interfere with the prosecution of the one responsible for the death by loss of evidence, but could also prolong the agony of the family as they search for their loved one with misplaced hope;

- Create a new felony for failing to notify law enforcement when the whereabouts of a young child is unknown for more than 24 hours;

- Create new felony offenses for obstructing the location of a missing child;

- Create a felony child endangering statute to protect children from especially cruel and sadistic conduct.  Under current law, unless physical injury results, the infliction on children of sadistic, painful, dangerous punishments can typically be charged only as misdemeanors;

- Create a statute to protect children from serious reckless abuse. To the extent existing laws address reckless conduct, they minimize the seriousness by treating it as a low level offense or often include the requirement that the conduct be "depraved," an element that New York courts have in recent years interpreted in a way that is extremely difficult to prove; and

- Increase penalties for repeat child abusers.

Click here to view the "Protect Our Children Act" legislation.

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