2008-05-23 / Top Stories

Senate Measure Allows Hearsay Evidence From Sexually Abused Minors

New York Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm A. Smith sponsored a bill that was unanimously passed by the Senate aimed at allowing the outof court testimony from a child less than 12 years of age to be admissible during a sex abuse trial.

Under the measure, the testimony would only be admissible if the sexually abused child is unable to testify in court or an official court proceeding; has been determined to suffer possible severe trauma by testifying; and when the testimony of an individual is relevant to the case in question.

We must protect those who cannot protect themselves and this measure is geared towards that result," Senator Smith said. "Children are the most precious parts of our family. We must protect children from being abused and neglected while providing a stable home environment. But when the system fails we must provide these children with a safe and secure setting that is essential to their healing, success and recovery."

Smith has been a longtime proponent of protecting children. Two measures he is sponsoring are aimed at increasing penalties for crimes against children. One measure increases the penalties for the rape or sexual assault of a child under age five and the other makes crimes against children involving alcohol or drugs a class D felony. The second measure passed the Senate earlier this year. The bills must also be passed in the State Assembly before becoming law.

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