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SAFE package signed by Carney, protects children by cracking down on pedophiles and predators

Governor John Carney recently signed six bills that crack down on pedophiles and predators, protecting children and students from abuse by those they trust most.

The six bills untie law enforcements’ hands, allowing them to prosecute pedophiles on a number of abusive behaviors such as grooming, while adding partially nude or sexually subjective child pornography as felonies.

House Bill 428 adds partially nude and provocatively posed child pornography to classify as a felony.

And, employers of offenders can now be held responsible for negligence, not just gross negligence. House Bill 277 refers to the conviction of a Caesar Rodney wrestling coach in 2016, who sexually abused several female students, and co-sponsor Sen. Nicole Poore, cited many other examples.

“Just in the last year we have seen stories," Poore said. "A Tower Hill administrator facing child pornography charges, a Colonial school board member sentenced to 22 years in prison for sexually abusing children. A Delcastle teacher accused of raping a student, a Milford school custodian facing child pornography charges, a High Rads school teacher, [who was] Teacher of the Year, who stood next to us as we all took pictures, charged with raping a 15 year old child.”

As a parent, Poore says these incidents send a chill down her spine.

Poore was prime-sponsor of the four Senate Bills signed by Carney, that expand the scope of sexual extortion, requires school districts and charter schools to adopt an appropriate relationships policy, adds grooming to the state public school curriculum for employees about child sexual abuse, and makes grooming a felony.

“The six bills that we passed in the SAFE package are designed to help protect our children by giving our school districts and police more tools to identify and prevent improper behavior by adults and their employment, and hold them accountable when they fail in that mission,” she said.

Poore adds she is not done with child protection legislation. Next on her agenda is getting state agencies that work with child victims to create “soft rooms” for interviews.

"You are sitting in what feels like a living room," she said. "So your conversation flows much easier than it does in a very sterile room."

She adds that more must be done to protect children from the physical, emotional and psychological harm, and school communities from the lasting harm the incidents cause.

“I'll be working with our law enforcement. I'll be working with our Attorney General. I will be working with victims, and making sure that we do close these loopholes," Poore said. "Predators are not welcome in the state of Delaware.”

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.