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Monday, October 12, 2009

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed Aaron's Law with my son's photo on his desk

Chronology of Aaron's Law

In 2003, I testified to Kory Wright’s criminal involvement in the abduction of my children before the Oregon State Senate Judiciary Committee and the Joint Ways and Means Public Safety Subcommittee , about the “taking, enticing and keeping” of my children in violation of the Order for Joint Custody.

Also in 2003, Senate President Peter Courtney appointed the Interim Task Force on Parental and Family Abductions, which met in 2004 and reported its findings to the 2005 Oregon Legislature.

The blue-ribbon Abduction Task Force was co-chaired by Senators Avel Gordly and Frank Morse.

The Task Force included: Hon. Judge Maureen McKnight; former Senator John Minnis (Director of the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training); Liss Hart-Haviv of Take Root; Judy Hayes of the Oregon State Police, Missing Children’s Clearing House; Mickey Lansing of the Oregon Commission on Children and Families; Sybil Hebb of the Oregon Law Center; Madeline Olson of the Department of Human Services; Ronelle Shenkle of the Department of Justice; BeaLisa Sydlik of the Judicial Department; Patrick Callahan of the District Attorneys Association; and, Denise Washington of the Domestic Violence Coalition.

I testified before the Parental and Family Abduction Task Force in 2004.

Among its findings: “According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, in 1999 an estimated 203, 900 children were victims of family abductions with 20 percent of the abductions involving more than one perpetrator. Although there are no numbers for Oregon regarding parental abductions (emphasis added), the Task Force is of the opinion that the rate of parental abductions in Oregon mirrors the rate for the country. In other words, there appear to be at least 5,000 parental abductions in Oregon every year. These abductions are illegal; they cause a tremendous amount of grief and anxiety for the parent or guardian with legal custody, and they cause immeasurable damage, both psychological and sometimes physical, to the abducted child.”

At the beginning of the 2005 legislative session, Senator Gordly tasked me with leading the workgroup on her Senate Bill 1041, which, after the death of my son, became known as Aaron’s Law.

In 2005, I testified on Senate Bill 1041 before the Senate Judiciary Committee and then before the Senate Rules Committee and the House State and Federal Affairs Committee, describing the multi-perpetrator criminal abduction of my children.

Aaron’s Law passed the Senate on a 26-3 vote and the House on a unanimous 59-0 vote as the 2005 legislative session came to an end.

Governor Ted Kulongoski signed the bill into law with Aaron’s picture on his desk.

In April, 2006, Aaron’s Law was among the featured sessions at “Out of the Frying Pan: Burning Issues in Access to Justice”, the Oregon Judicial Department and the State Family Law Advisory Committee’s fourth annual Family Law Conference.

Hon. Paul J. De Muniz, Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court wrote:

“I am pleased to inform you that the State Family Law Advisory Committee is offering a workshop on parental abductions at its fourth Family Law Conference…. The curriculum for the workshop will include education on the nature of the problem, information about case studies from a practicing psychotherapist and two attorneys, information about Aaron’s Law (SB 1041), and existing statutory remedies in Oregon to enforce parenting plans and prevent abduction in the context of family law proceedings.”

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