New York Witness Law May Change

2:10 pm

The Statue of Liberty serves as a beacon of hope in New York. Image courtesy of jver64

The Statue of Liberty serves as a beacon of hope in New York. Image courtesy of jver64

In Richmond, NY a recent incident may cause a change in a law regarding witnesses to crimes against minors. The Sherrice Iverson Child Victim Protection Act currently requires any witnesses to report “murder, rape or lewd conduct with an under-14-year-old” and enforces consequences for those who do not. Anyone who fails to report such an incident faces a misdemeanor charge, a fine up to $1,500 and 6 months in prison.

The incident in question happened on October 24 when a Richmond High School girl was gang raped outside the school’s homecoming dance. Six defendants have since been charged, three of whom are minors. According to authorities, the 16 year old girl was raped over a period of two hours while as many as 20 onlookers stood by. One 18 year old woman was the only person to call 911.

The woman has since received accolades for her actions and continues to receive them. The other 10 to 20 onlookers, however, have not faced any consequences for their inaction. Because the girl who was raped is not 14 or younger, those people will not face any consequences either. Because of this, the original author of the Sherrice Iverson Child Victim Protection Act, Tom Torlakson, is trying to find a way to increase the age to 16 or 18. He is also exploring the possibility of applying the law to any instance in which a person is physically harmed on a school campus.

If you want more information about injuries like this to teens, check out this New York City personal injury lawyer’s site. My most pressing question is this: Should a law like this apply across the board? It seems to me that ensuring the reporting of any crime might make things a lot easier. Obviously there is the counter argument of avoiding over crowding of court dockets, but I’d like to see what else we can come up with. What do you think is the future of this law?

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