Senate approves legislation that would protect children from sexual predators

Senate approves legislation that would protect children from sexual predators

Lansing— Children across Michigan would be safer under legislation approved by the Michigan Senate on Tuesday, said sponsor Sen. Rick Jones.

Senate Bills 596, 755, 890 and 934 would help protect children from becoming victims of sexual predators.

SB 596, sponsored by Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw Township, and SB 755, Sen. Rick Jones, would make it a crime for a teacher or other school employee to have sex with a student, regardless of age, if the student attends a school where they work. A person convicted of engaging in this behavior would be guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree, which is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“Classrooms should be a place where kids feel safe and where parents know their children will be properly cared for,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Anyone who abuses this relationship should be treated as a sexual predator and this legislation ensures they will be.”

Jones also sponsored SB 890 which would amend the Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA) to require that a registered sex offender convicted of certain Tier 1 offences to be listed on the public website.

“Convicted sex offenders are organized into three tiers, with Tier 3 being the most serious and Tier 1 the least serious,” said Jones. “Currently, Tier 1 offenders are registered in the law enforcement database but not the public database. 

Under SB 890, the following Tier 1 crimes would be listed on the public website.

• Possessing child pornography;
• Indecent exposure of one’s self to a minor; 
• Unlawful imprisonment of a minor; and 
• Surveillance of a minor.

“Any parent or grandparent has the right to know if they are living next to someone who has a record of committing sexual crimes against minors,” said Jones. “This legislation allows parents to know if there are areas of the neighborhood they need to teach their children to avoid”

Senate Bill 934, sponsored by Jones, would close a loophole in state law to prevent foster parents from legally having sexual intercourse with their foster children.

Michigan law currently sets the age of sexual consent at 16 years old. Individuals who are considered to have power and authority over potential victims are not protected under the age of consent law and may not lawfully enter into a sexual relationship regardless of age. 

The Prosecutors Association of Michigan made Jones aware of this loophole due to a recent Barry County case.

A foster parent in Barry County was accused of having sex with his 16 and 17-year-old foster children. Some charges against the suspect could not be brought because the victims were scared to say “no” to the subject.

“Each of these bills will help to protect kids who cannot yet protect themselves,” said Jones. “I would like to thank my colleagues in the Senate who supported the bill and urge House members to support each of these measures when it reaches the floor.”