Lauren Book, M.S.Ed., CEO and founder of Lauren’s Kids, today issued the following statement in response to the filing of SB 542 relating to private recording exemptions, sponsored by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto and Sen. Wilton Simpson.
“Last month’s McDade vs. State Florida Supreme Court ruling prevents prosecutors from using secret recordings made by children to prove they are being abused – it’s just not within the bounds of current Florida law, and that’s just not acceptable. The Florida Supreme Court agreed, directly calling upon the lawmakers to fix it.
The young survivor at the center of the McDade vs. State case tried to tell at least three separate adults on three separate occasions about the abuse she was enduring, but her voice was silenced until she created a secret recording on her cell phone, which was ultimately not admissible as evidence. We cannot allow even one more child’s voice to be silenced. With 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys falling victim to sexual abuse before their 18th birthday, the time has come to use every tool at our disposal to protect children from the horror of sexual abuse.
For this reason, I urge the swift adoption of legislation that would allow courts to consider recordings made secretly by children as evidence that an adult has sexually abused them. Senators Lizbeth Benacquisto and Wilton Simpson, Representatives Jared Moskowitz and Carlos Trujillo, and Attorney General Pam Bondi are to be applauded for their immediate response in the drafting and filing of legislation for early consideration to close this terribly abusive provision.
As a survivor and advocate, I fully recognize the myriad barriers that prevent children from coming forward and telling about sexual abuse. They face shame, ridicule, embarrassment, guilt, fear…the list goes on and on. Worst of all, as we saw in McDade vs. State and hear far too often from survivors, it’s easy for adults to simply dismiss these accounts of abuse as the imaginings of confused, or rebellious, or spiteful children – not as the accurate, heart-breaking truths these children were forced to live through. The proposed legislation, by allowing children’s secret recordings to be admitted into evidence, will empower children and give prosecutors a potent tool to put predators behind bars where they belong.”