Bill headed to governor's desk that implements stricter child abuse laws

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DENVER (KKTV) - UPDATE: (5/02)
A bill is headed to the governor's desk that will change child abuse laws across the state. Senate Bill 119 makes it a felony to detain a child by tying, locking, caging or chaining them for an unreasonable amount of time. We will keep you updated.

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PREVIOUS STORY: (4/06)
State lawmakers want to take a closer look at a bill that would bring more serious charges to suspected child abusers.

It is being spearheaded by a group of detectives from southern Colorado. 11 News reporter Katie Pelton has been tracking the bill and provided an update following a meeting on Thursday.

A picture held up to lawmakers at the state Capitol shows a child, sitting in the corner of the room. This little boy in Fountain and other kids in our community inspired local detectives to try to change the law for child abuse cases. Some law enforcement officers feel the law isn't strict enough when it comes to detaining children for an unreasonable amount of time.

"All we could charge was misdemeanor," Janet Huffor, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office chief of staff said about this particular child abuse case. "Because under current statute, no serious bodily injury or death."

The case happened a couple years ago in Fountain. But El Paso County deputies say lately, they're seeing more and more similar cases.

"As recently as two weeks ago we responded to a similar case in a home with multiple children that was reported by an individual who went to perform mechanical services in the home," explained a representative with the sheriff's office. "When we arrived there the same thing. Here is your misdemeanor summons."

Senate Bill 119 will make it a felony to detain a child by tying, locking, caging or chaining them for an unreasonable amount of time.

On Thursday, opponents argued there are already child abuse laws in place that could apply to these cases, but detectives say the laws aren't strict enough.

"Everybody is touched by these cases because they're so disturbing," a detective said while giving testimony on Thursday. "When you go into these rooms and you see children being treated in a way that the state says we can't treat prisoners serving life for murder, it strikes a chord for you."

The detectives told us tonight they expect the bill will move forward in the next few weeks.

The summary of the bill, false imprisonment of a minor, can be read below:

The bill states that a person commits class 5 felony false imprisonment if he or she confines or detains another person less than 18 years of age by means of tying, locking, caging, chaining, or otherwise restricting that person's freedom of movement by any instrumentality for an unreasonable amount of time under the circumstances.

The bill states that the statutory privilege between a patient and a physician or between an individual and his or her spouse is not available for the purpose of excluding or refusing testimony in any prosecution for false imprisonment.

The bill makes an appropriation.