An effort to extend Colorado’s statute of limitations for the crime of failing to report child abuse died in a Senate panel Wednesday following opposition from a teacher’s organization and the Catholic Church.
The vote for Senate Bill 58 was 3-2 along party lines in the Republican-controlled Senate’s State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.
The legislation would have changed the start of the statute of limitations for failing to report child abuse — a Class 3 misdemeanor — from 18 months to five years. It would have specifically applied to so-called mandatory reporters, people who are legally bound, such as a doctor or school officials, to report abuse to authorities when they are told about or discover it.
The legislation was sparked by charges that were filed against three Cherry Creek School District leaders accused of failing to properly report claims of sexual assault by a teacher against a teen student.
Photo courtesy of Aurora Police DepartmentBrian Vasquez, a teacher at Prairie Middle School, has been accused of sexually assaulting several children, Aurora police said.
Charging documents alleged the victim, a young girl, was pressured to recant her disclosure of sexual abuse by the teacher and then later suspended. The teacher, Brian Vasquez, has been charged with sexually assaulted five students.
“Eighteen months is just not enough time for prosecutors,” said Sen. Rhonda Fields, an Aurora Democrat who sponsored the measure.
According to legislative analysts, there have been more than 25 cases of failure to report child abuse or neglect filed over the past three years.
Republican George Brauchler, the 18th Judicial District attorney whose office is prosecuting the school leaders and the teacher accused of sexual assault, backed the legislation, saying “we have a very weak law right now.” The Colorado District Attorney’s Council was on board, too.
DA @GeorgeBrauchler talks about Senate Bill 58 pic.twitter.com/S2tQNO2egH
— DA Office of 18th (@DA18th) February 14, 2018
However, state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, a Sterling Republican who is also the Senate’s president pro tem and cast one of the three votes to kill the bill, said the legislation “does nothing to protect kids.”
The Colorado Education Association and Colorado Catholic Conference also both opposed the bill.
“Just extending the statute of limitations will not fix what is needed to address student safety,” the education association said in a written statement. “Educators do report to the authorities and law enforcement investigates those reports. The issue for mandatory …read more
Source:: The Denver Post – News