The Missouri General Assembly has adopted legislation to protect children from individuals guilty of sex crimes. Under the provisions of the bill sent on to the Governor, new restrictions would be placed on the presence of sex offenders in local communities.
The newly enacted law, Senate Substitute for House Bill 62, prohibits those convicted of sex crimes from loitering or being physically present within 500 feet of any public park with playground equipment or a swimming pool, or any child care facility. Sex offenders may not approach, contact, or communicate
with anyone younger than 18 years of age on such property.
The bill also provides that those convicted of sex offenses may not serve as an athletic coach, manager, or trainer for any sports team in which a child younger than 17 years of age is a member. Violations of the public park and sports team restrictions would be a felony. Violation of the child care facility provision would be a misdemeanor.
Missouri law currently provides that sex offenders may not be physically present within 500 feet of a school building or real property comprising any
The provisions of the law apply to any person who has plead guilty or been convicted of sexual
exploitation of a minor, endangering the welfare of a child, possession or promotion of child pornography, or the furnishing of pornographic materials to minors.
The new restrictions dealing with public parks and athletic coaches were sponsored by Representative Will Kraus
of Raytown. The section dealing with child care facilities was offered by Representative Gary Dusenberg
of Blue Springs.
"Sex offenders and pedophiles are looking for places where children congregate," says Kraus. "It is great that we have laws keeping these people away from our schools. But we also need to keep them away from where kids gather before and after school,
and during the summertime. This provides another tool for local police to use to keep our kids protected from those who would do them harm."
In related action, the Legislature also gave final approval to a bill toughening the penalties for sex offenses against children. Should the bill be signed by Governor Jay Nixon, those convicted of forcible rape or sodomy of a child less than twelve years of age would be sentenced to life in prison. Such offenders would not be eligible for probation, parole, or conditional release.
In order for the penalty to apply, a jury would have to determine that the actions of the perpetrator were "outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhumane, in that it involved torture or depravity of mind." The current penalty in the law is a minimum
of thirty years in prison, at which time the person who raped or sodomized a child can be released back into the community.
The enhanced penalty for sexual abuse of a child was sponsored by Senator Jack Goodman of Mt. Vernon.