Posted: Jan 24, 2013 2:10 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
HELENA - A recent string of child abuse cases has motivated Montana State Senator Mitch Tropila (D-Great Falls) to introduce a bill which would create a crime of criminal child endangerment.
Under the bill, anyone who puts a child at risk could face a $50,000 fine and/or 10 years in prison.
It would apply to anyone who deals drugs in a home where a child is present, drives under the influence while a child is in a car or places a child in the care of someone who has previously harmed them.
The bill was triggered by a recent string of child abuse cases in Great Falls.
"There has been a mountain of human suffering in my community. Five kids, five kids who will never get dropped off for kindergarten by their grandparents, five kids who will never get to blow out the candles on their 12th birthday or experience that first kiss," Tropila said.
Currently, county prosecutors are using the criminal endangerment statute to prosecute these types of cases, and have asked for a tougher law.
The Senate Judiciary committee has not yet taken action on it.
Here are the actions targeted by Tropila in the bill:
(a) failing to obtain medical care for a child suffering from an apparent life-threatening condition;
(b) placing a child in the care of another who the person knows has previously caused bodily injury to the child;
(c) placing a child in the care of another who the person knows has previously committed an offense against the child under 45-5-502 or 45-5-503;
(d) manufacturing or distributing dangerous drugs in a place where a child is present;
(e) operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or dangerous drugs with a child in the vehicle; or
(f) failing to provide proper nutrition for a child, resulting in a medical diagnosis of failure to thrive.