Capitol Report
Senator Delbert Scott

Senator Delbert Scott, Representative Tom Self Advance Child Protection Measure

Senator Delbert Scott, Representative Tom Self
Advance Child Protection Measure


Legislation Broadens Legal Definitions of Kidnapping to Provides More Prosecutorial Power




     Legislation championed by Senator Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, and Representative Tom Self, R-Cole Camp, creating the crime of child kidnapping cleared the Senate today and is now poised to become law.

The need for the broadened kidnapping definition stems from the recent abduction of a Benton County infant by an unrelated woman posing as a nurse. Law enforcement soon tracked down the woman, and the 1-month-old boy, who was returned home unhurt.

 “The legal loophole surfaced when moving to charge the woman,” Sen. Scott said. “You would have thought kidnapping charges were in order, but prosecutors discovered differently.”

Current state law contains a number of criminal kidnapping instances including:

Ø      Taking or holding a person without his/her consent.

Ø      Holding a person for ransom or reward.

Ø      Intending to physically injure a held person.



     Under existing guidelines, prosecutors could only levy charges of felonious restraint and burglary against the infant’s abductor.

“For one thing, an infant obviously can’t grant or deny consent,” Rep. Self said. “For another, the woman apparently just wanted to be a mom and had no intention of hurting the baby, so none of the existing kidnapping criteria were met.”

To make certain any similar subsequent cases don’t face these same judicial obstacles, Sen. Scott and Rep. Self’s legislation expands the law to read that taking and/or holding a child under 14 without consent of the child’s parent or guardian is a kidnapping crime.

The new provision excludes immediate family members from child kidnapping charges so that non-custodial parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents could not be prosecuted for taking a related child.

Approved during Senate debate of HB 1487 was an amendment doubling the statute of limitations for prosecuting sexual abuse of a child to 10 years. Also added were penalties for importing children for slave labor or pornography.

With each chamber approving slightly different versions, House and Senate negotiators will work to iron out language differences in the bill. A final passing vote on consensus legislation would move the bill to the governor’s desk.

“Sometimes a law’s flaws don’t surface until a certain set of circumstances unfold,” Sen. Scott said. “A flaw surfaced in February in the wake of a child abduction and a legislative solution is already nearly in place.”



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