by Sean Cruz
Portland, Oregon--Desiree Young, the mother of Kyron Horman, filed a civil suit against her son's stepmother under Senate Bill 1041 (2005), Oregon's landmark child abduction statute, known as "Aaron's Law" after my son Aaron Cruz, who died as a consequence of his abduction by members of the Mormon church enforcing a shunning.
Aaron's Law provides new tools for kidnapping victims to resolve and deter abductions, and to hold kidnappers accountable, particularly when law enforcement and the courts are unwilling or unable to act.
The US Department of Justice reports that more than 200,000 US children suffer the trauma of kidnapping by a parent, family member or religious organization every year, with growing numbers of children taken to foreign countries.
The filing of the Horman suit, regardless of the length of time it takes or its outcome is likely to serve a greater good in deterring others from committing similar crimes.
Under Aaron's Law, persons who provide assistance to an abduction, whether logistical, planning or financial, are liable for damages, including punitive damages for their participation in the crime.
The Hormon case and the Marenco case both illustrate how difficult non-stranger child abduction cases are to resolve, and in all cases the experience of abduction and loss is so traumatic to the child that focus needs to be on deterrence.
Consider these facts:
In the past five years, the only child to be recognized as missing by the Oregon State Police Missing Children Clearinghouse is Kyron Hormon.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children currently identifies 17 Oregon missing children, none of whom are listed on the Oregon State Police Missing Children site. Are those children missing or not? Ask the parents who are looking for them.
An international child abduction case that originated in Oregon was resolved just last week with the assistance of more than a dozen police agencies, with the Oregon State Police conspicuously absent from the credits.
The Marenco child was listed by the National Center, but not by the Oregon State Police over the year and a half that the child was known to be abducted.
What does an abducted child have to do to get some OSP attention?
More on this later.
In 2005, Governor Ted Kulongoski signed Senate Bill 1041 with my son Aaron's picture on his desk