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Bill would prohibit buying a child

January 27, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

ANNAPOLIS -- Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, said he was told about a woman at City Park who was offered money for one of her children.

Frightened, the woman left the playground and took her children home. That same man followed her home and again made an offer.

The woman called Hagerstown City Police, but was told it is not illegal to offer to buy a child, Serafini said.

It is a crime to sell a child.

A bill introduced by Serafini and heard in the House of Delegates' Judiciary Committee Tuesday would correct what Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, called an oversight in the law.

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Munson was originally contacted about the need for such a correction, and has cross-filed the same bill in the Senate.

No action was taken on the bill Tuesday.

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said he was aware of the City Park incident but that no charges were filed.

Serafini said his bill would prohibit a person from buying or offering to buy a child, and make it a punishable offense to do either.

Munson introduced his bill Monday, and said he's hopeful that either the House bill or the Senate bill, or both, will be approved.

He said there is no cost associated with the bill, making it ideal at a time when the state is facing a budget crisis.

"It corrects a big omission in the original law," Munson said.

The original law states that a person may not sell, barter or trade, or offer to sell, barter or trade a child. The bills introduced by Serafini and Munson simply add the word "buy" to that language.

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