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Teachers will face stiffer penalties in cases of sex abuse




FRANKFORT

Gov. Steve Beshear has signed into law a bill aimed at holding teachers and other authority figures more accountable for sexual abuse.

The measure would stiffen penalties for people in positions of authority over children if they have sexual conduct with youngsters under 18 years old.

It also increases the statute of limitations on criminal charges for an abuse case from one to five years and increases the penalty for people who don’t report abuse to authorities.

The measure takes effect this summer.

“All too often, we see people in positions of power over their victims using that authority to steal their childhood,” said state Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, who drafted the measure that passed the House 96-0 on Feb. 28 and the Senate 37-0 on April 2.

The measure has had widespread support, including endorsements by the state’s Catholic bishops and by Kentucky Youth Advocates.

Wayne said authorities in the state received 3,315 reports of sexual abuse in 2006, of which more than 1,000 were substantiated. He said many other cases likely went unreported.

In Kentucky, education officials handled nearly 100 sexual misconduct allegations against teachers from 2001 through 2005. The allegations ranged from minor violations like using sexual language to more serious, criminal acts such as inappropriate touching, sodomy and rape.

Similar allegations led states across the country to take action against the teaching licenses of 2,570 educators over the fiveyear period, according to a sevenmonth Associated Press investigation. Young people were the victims in at least 1,801 of the cases, and more than 80 percent of those were students.


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