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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Parental abduction wisdom, pt 5: Oregon's anti-kidnapping law

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—Each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 200,000 American children experience the trauma of abduction by a parent, a family member or other persons known to the victim.

Some children are abducted back and forth repeatedly, others disappear forever.

Existing state and federal laws have proven to be inadequate to deal with the problem, as the staggering numbers attest.

In all cases, the harm to the child victim is so severe that the best strategy is to prevent the abduction from taking place in the first place.

Aaron’s Law, Senate Bill 1041, passed by the Oregon legislature in 2005, is designed to provide relief to the victims of parental and family abductions and to deter parents from kidnapping their own children in the first place through financial and other sanctions.

Aaron’s Law is unique in the nation, bypassing the criminal and traditional family court approaches by creating a civil cause of action for the crime of custodial interference, which applies if the child is removed from the state of Oregon.

Aaron’s Law is named in memory of Aaron Cruz, who was abducted from Oregon along with his brother and two sisters in 1996 by his mother, other family members and several of their church associates, all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon). Kory Wright, a Mormon zealot who is completely unrelated to any member of the Cruz family, led this group, which included David Holliday and Evelyn Taylor, Mormon officials in the Hillsboro area.

Aaron later died, essentially from long-term medical neglect, heartbreak and abandonment, alone in an empty house in Payson, Utah, where his mother had
taken him, concealed him and then left him behind.

Aaron’s Law operates as a deterrent to parental and family abductions by providing financial sanctions against all participants in the crime, those who “take, entice or keep” a child from the child’s lawful custodial parent or in violation of a joint custody order.

Aaron’s Law also operates as a deterrent by authorizing the Court to appoint legal and mental health professionals assigned to protect the child.

Aaron’s Law contains a provision authorizing the Court to require the parties to attend counseling sessions to understand the harm they are inflicting on their own children.

Aaron’s Law authorizes the court to assess the costs of the professional services to the perpetrators, an additional financial deterrent.

Aaron’s Law may apply to any Oregon child abduction occurring after the date the Governor signed the bill into law.

While this law applies only to children taken from the state of Oregon, it can serve as a model for other states.

Link to Aaron’s Law:

http://www.leg.state.or.us/05reg/measpdf/sb1000.dir/sb1041.en.pdf
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Coming next: Parental abduction wisdom, pt 6:

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Sean Cruz writes

Parental Abduction Law at http://www.parentalabductionlaw.blogspot.com
Oregon’s Aaron’s Law: Stop Parental Abductions at http://www.aaronslaw.blogspot.com

Blogolitical Sean at http://www.blogoliticalsean.blogspot.com

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