Monday, January 27, 2014

Coalition formed to protect against serial child sexual predators

(From Protect Missouri Children)

A bi-partisan coalition has formed Protect Missouri Children to support a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution. The amendment provides a powerful tool to aid in the prosecutions of serial child sexual predators. The proposed amendment overwhelmingly passed the Missouri General Assembly in May. It will now go to the voters for adoption in November.

“As a prosecutor, I see these horrific crimes committed against children nearly every single day,” Platte County Prosecutor and campaign Co-Chair Eric Zahnd said. “This common sense change will help ensure that Missouri’s children are protected and those who commit crimes against them can be successfully prosecuted.”

The change will allow relevant evidence of prior criminal acts to be admissible in the prosecution of crimes involving minors, which is the standard used by federal courts and other states. Missouri is more restrictive than any other state, barring prosecutors from telling jurors about prior criminal sex acts in nearly all cases against accused child predators.

“By allowing what is known as propensity evidence to be admissible in cases of sexual abuse, we can give prosecutors a powerful tool to put sex offenders behind bars,” said State Representative and Resolution sponsor John McCaherty, R-Jefferson County. “We want to change the standard in Missouri to mirror the standard used by the federal government and many other states to protect our children from these heinous crimes.”

“This constitutional amendment is extremely important in ensuring our kids are safe and these awful crimes are prosecuted,” St. Louis County Prosecutor and campaign Co-Chair Bob McCulloch said. “I look forward to working with child advocates, the law enforcement community, other prosecutors, and concerned citizens from across Missouri to make sure we pass this amendment to protect Missouri children.”

Joining Zahnd and McCulloch as the committee’s treasurer is Jasper County Prosecutor Dean Dankelson. “Passing this constitutional amendment is probably the most important thing we can do to protect Missouri children from the most dangerous child sex predators,” he said. “I’m proud to be a part of this effort to educate voters about the importance of passing this constitutional amendment.”

For more information, visit, find Protect Missouri Children on Facebook, or follow @ProtectMOChild on Twitter.

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