Tonawanda News, May 20, 2010... by Neale Gulley
State Sen. George Maziarz announced he is sponsoring a bill to toughen penalties for kidnappers when the victim is a child.
“It came together actually from the incident in North Tonawanda, the incident with Ronald Delp,” Maziarz said from his district headquarters Wednesday.
Delp, a 43-year-old North Tonawanda truck driver, is accused of sexually abusing a boy in 2008, a felony case that is now being transferred to Niagara County Court.
But what has Maziarz and several senate cosponsors of the bill concerned, he said, is the unrelated kidnapping of a 9-year-old boy in March, for which Delp is also charged. His indictment for second-degree kidnapping is what led to the investigation into his past dealings with minors and the latest charges for the March kidnapping, uncovered just weeks later.
For the first offense, though less serious, Delp had simply posted $20,000 bail and walked free, an accused predator, while the heavier abuse charge was being investigated.
“The fact that he was out. Had he been charged with a felony the bail would have been higher (and) he probably wouldn’t have been able to make it,” Maziarz said. “I’ve been working with the New York State District Attorney’s Association on this and I think they’re going to come out with a memo of support.”
The bill would make kidnapping a minor an automatic felony charge for first-degree kidnapping, a special circumstance given the victims’ age that’s also echoed in other areas of the law.
Leandra’s Law, for example, was signed by Gov. David Paterson Wednesday. Named for 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who died as a passenger in a drunken driving accident last month, the new law makes it a felony to drive drunk with children in the car.
“There are special provisions in laws specifically involving crimes against young people or crimes against the elderly,” he said.
First-degree felony status under the proposed legislation would include the kidnapping of anyone 16 years old or younger.
“The existing law does not make specific reference to the kidnapping of a child. The current penalties are currently the same for abduction of an adult as a child,” a summary of the bill states. “... This bill would ensure that the abduction of a child automatically qualify as the highest level kidnapping charge.”
Existing justifications for first-degree kidnapping include extortion, intent to cause harm or accidental death — things Delp was not accused of in the March abduction in which the boy was returned to his parents unharmed.
Other written justifications contained on a summary of the proposed bill includes information on kidnapping offenders. For instance, state senate research shows that “five out of every 100 kidnap offenders convicted of kidnapping will be reconvicted. A previous conviction of kidnapping is a significant risk factor for other serious crimes. Kidnappers are 30 times more likely than (other males) to commit homicide and four times more likely than sex offenders ...”
First-degree kidnapping in New York state is a class A-1 felony, which carries a sentence of at least 20 years in prison, according to a legal website. Second-degree kidnapping, a class B felony in New York state, carries a sentence of one to eight years in prison.