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Monday, June 01, 2015

On the Kyron Horman kidnapping at the five-year mark

By Sean Aaron Cruz

June 1, 2015

The Kyron Horman kidnapping is at the five-year mark, and the investigation is still stalled behind Kyron's step mom's unwillingness to account for her whereabouts for a critical couple of hours that day, and law enforcement’s inability (so far) to fill in the gap with hard evidence. Kyron’s step mom Terri Horman continues to stick to her non-story.

Kyron's mom Desiree Young was quoted in The Oregonian on what five years into a kidnapping feels like:

It's said that time heals all wounds. For Desiree Young, it's not worked out that way.

The pain she first felt five years ago when her son Kyron disappeared hasn't softened. If anything, her emotions are more ragged today, she said. Tears flow often. The gnawing hole inside hasn't filled, not even a little.

"It doesn't get easier with time," Young said. "I still wake up crying and praying, hoping today will be the day."

I remember the five-year mark of the kidnapping of my four children very well.

That was in February, 2001, and marks when I first drove to the Oregon state Capitol, where I met Senator Avel Louise Gordly​ and told her what had happened/was happening to my family, how both the family law and criminal law systems had failed to protect my children despite an order for joint custody that had protected my family for five years at the time the kidnapping began.

She promised to do something about it.

The following year Senator Gordly offered me the job as her legislative aide, and that is where the road to Senate Bill 1041 (2005) and House Bills 2601 and 2603 (2015) began.

There is yet much work to be done on the issue of non-stranger abductions here in Oregon. Expect more legislation in the future, including:

Emotional abuse. The current Custodial Interference I and II statutes are triggered if there is physical abuse, but there is no reference to the emotional abuse that abducted children suffer. The Parental and Family Abduction Task Force concluded that children abducted by any person suffer emotional harm as severe as any other form of child abuse. Oregon became a mental health parity state in the 2009 legislative session, and these facts need to be recognized in statute.

Domestic violence. Parental and family abductions should be added to the statutory definition of domestic violence. They are crimes committed against the parent from whom the child has been abducted as well as against the child victim. Threatening to abduct a child should be treated in statute as any other threat of harm made under domestic circumstances.

Continuing crime. Kidnappings are “continuing” crimes. The public perception is generally that the traumas of crimes fade away with time, and maybe they do, but not before the crime comes to an end. A crime against a child cannot end simply because the child “ages out” of the crime.

It is my contention that a kidnapped child becomes “more” kidnapped as time goes on, and the age-progressed images of Kyron Horman ought to drive that point home to everyone listening. The House and Senate Judiciary Committees should take this issue on in reframing the Custodial Interference I and II statutes.

Organized kidnappings. Every person who engages in taking, keeping or enticing a child in violation of the Custodial Interference I or II statutes must be held accountable, not merely the parent. The statutes are clear. The issue is enforcement.

Law enforcement could have wrapped up the abduction of the Cruz children in short order if they had included the dozen or so adults who participated in planning and executing the kidnapping. The Washington County D.A.’s office was aware of the group, which included Mormon officials in three states, but made a decision not to prosecute them. This decision could have been influenced by Mormon church members, as the church is very powerful in Oregon.

Definition of “protracted.” Time is of the essence in any kidnapping, yet under current law the person(s) must intend to keep the child “permanently or for a protracted period of time.” Yet there is no definition of “protracted”. No one knows how long that is. It is a completely subjective measure.

House Bill 2601 (2015), requiring local law enforcement to notify the Oregon State Police within 24 hours of having probable cause to believe that a violation of Kidnapping I or II or Custodial Interference I or II has taken place, has more than one purpose: to urge the law enforcement and legal systems to take the issue of time more seriously, and spur the legislature to formulate and enact a definition of “protracted.”

HB 2601 was enacted with an emergency clause, meaning it went into effect immediately upon Governor Kate Brown’s signature.


On Wisdom and Moral Authority:

“Please tell Sean that I also wish him the best. I have also followed his career and believe his personal experience has given him the wisdom and the moral authority necessary to make a real difference in making Oregon safer for our children.” –Hon. Judge James L. Fun, Washington County Circuit Court, January 24, 2007

163.245 Custodial interference in the second degree. (1) A person commits the crime of custodial interference in the second degree if, knowing or having reason to know that the person has no legal right to do so, the person takes, entices or keeps another person from the other person’s lawful custodian or in violation of a valid joint custody order with intent to hold the other person permanently or for a protracted period.

163.257 Custodial interference in the first degree. (1) A person commits the crime of custodial interference in the first degree if the person violates ORS 163.245 and:
      (a) Causes the person taken, enticed or kept from the lawful custodian or in violation of a valid joint custody order to be removed from the state; or
      (b) Exposes that person to a substantial risk of illness or physical injury.

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