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Md. House panel hears delegate's proposals on sex-crime laws

March 14, 2007|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

ANNAPOLIS - Three proposals by Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, on Tuesday were part of a state House committee's agenda of sex-crime bill hearings.

Shank's most significant bill would eliminate parole for certain adults convicted of sexually abusing children.

Another bill would add the crimes of sexual abuse and continuing sexual abuse when the victims are children to those considered "violent."

A third bill would make it illegal to lure a child in public in an attempt to commit a sex crime.

The "luring" bill was the result of a legal loophole that came to light after a Washington County abduction attempt.

Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore testified that a Chambersburg, Pa., man tried to get a 13-year-old girl to ride with him by offering her money. A sexual proposition was implied, but his comment wasn't specific, Mullendore said.

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Maryland law only prohibits an adult from trying to lure children younger than 16 away from their homes or the custody of their parents or guardians.

Shank's bill would add "or from a public place."

In this case, the girl was at a bus stop, so police charged the man with attempted abduction only because he complimented her buttocks, Mullendore said.

Abduction is listed as a violent crime under Maryland law, along with murder, arson, rape and other acts.

Shank has proposed adding "sexual abuse of a minor" and "continuing course of conduct with a child," which applies to three or more sexual acts in a period of at least 90 days.

He said he plans to amend his bill to remove references to statutory rape and abuse, a sticking point that might have contributed to the defeat of the same bill in past legislative sessions.

State law requires inmates to serve longer percentages of their sentences when convicted of violent crimes.

"This is not only the right thing to do, it's the honest thing to do, to have more truth in sentencing," Washington County Assistant State's Attorney John Dunlap said in support of Shank's bill.

On the Web at http://mlis.state.md.us/2007rs/billfile/hb0803.htm (luring) and http://mlis.state.md.us/2007rs/billfile/hb0937.htm (crimes of violence)

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