Friday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Court Upholds Search of School Aide’s Desk in Child Sex-Abuse Case, The School Law Blog – Education Week

A police search of an instructional aide’s school desk for evidence of inappropriate communications with an elementary student did not violate the Fourth Amendment, Maryland’s highest court has ruled.

The ruling came in the case of a special education “paraeducator” who was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor and attempted sexual abuse, based entirely on a series of passionate notes and letters the aide had delivered to an 8-year-old girl at the school.

The aide, Karl Marshall Walker Jr., was 38 years old at the time the case unfolded. After a teacher found one inappropriate note in the girl’s possession, the police searched Walker’s desk in a common area of the school. With the school principal’s consent, police searched the desk and removed a box belonging to Walker. They obtained a warrant for that box, which contained notes from the 8-year-old girl to Walker.

 

Juvenile law restorative, not retributive: SC, The Peninsula

New Delhi: The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the Juvenile Justice Act providing for a special reformist approach towards a minor irrespective of the nature of crime committed by him or her, saying that the law aimed to save children in conflict from becoming hardened criminals.

“The essence of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and the rules framed thereunder in 2007, is restorative and not retributive, providing for rehabilitation and reintegration of children in conflict with law into the mainstream of society,” said an apex court bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S S Nijjar.

Chief Justice Kabir said: “There are, of course, exceptions where a child in the age group of 16-18 may have developed criminal propensities, which would make it virtually impossible for him/her to be reintegrated into mainstream society, but such examples are not of such proportions as to warrant any change in thinking…”

“…It is probably better to try and reintegrate children with criminal propensities into mainstream society, rather than to allow them to develop into hardened criminals, which does not augur well for the future,” the court said.

Assault Charges for Stepmother After a Girl Falls, NYTimes.com

The stepmother of a 7-year-old girl who was critically injured this month when she fell from a sixth-floor window in Brooklyn has been arrested on assault charges, the police said on Thursday.

On July 10, the woman, Diana Metellus, 19, beat the girl with a belt, then left her unsupervised in a room with no window guards, the police said. Ms. Metellus faces charges including assault with a weapon and acting in a manner injurious toward a child.

The child, who suffered injuries to her lungs, brain and pelvis in the fall, was later found with signs of abuse and traces of cannabis, methadone and amphetamines in her system, the authorities said.

In Tamil Nadu, Nearly 150 Hospitalized After Eating School Lunch, NYTimes.com

NEW DELHI— As many as 147 school girls were hospitalized on Thursday after eating a free lunch at a government school in Tamil Nadu, the local hospital authorities said.

The children from an all-girls high school in Neyveli township in the Cuddalore district complained of dizziness, vomiting and diarrhea soon after they ate a meal of sambar (a spicy lentil broth) and rice, said Dr. Pattu Ravi, a general superintendent at Neyveli General Hospital. He also said that some of those admitted had been given bread for lunch.

The students, ages 12 to 15, received emergency treatment after they were brought into the hospital Thursday afternoon in groups. Describing it as a simple case of “food infection,” Dr. Ravi said none of the patients were in critical condition. After keeping them under observation overnight, the children are likely to be discharged Friday morning, he said.

Dr. Ravi declined to confirm local media reports that identified contaminated eggs as the cause of the illness.

This incident raised alarms as it came a day after more than 20 children in Bihar died from eating a government school lunch believed to have been prepared with cooking oil stored in a pesticide container. One more child died Thursday, bringing the death toll to 23, and nearly two dozen children are still hospitalized.

Monday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Amended juvenile justice law hits snag, BusinessMirror

In the Philippines, the bill amending the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 hit a snag at the bicameral conference committee on Monday when senators failed to reach an agreement with their House counterparts on lowering the age of discernment to 12 years old but only for heinous crimes as proposed by the latter.

Apparently, Cayetano and Pangilinan sided with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and insisted that the age of discernment be at 15 years old regardless of the crime committed.

Harsher law for juvenile criminals needs debate, Hindustan Times

The Indian government on Monday defended its decision to come out with an ordinance on sexual assault, saying it has an open mind to other suggestions that might follow. “The ordinance is the first step in the making of law,” said Information and Broadcasting Minister Manoj Tewari at a press conference.
Chidambaram said the government was working on suggestions to have a more stringent Juvenile Justice Act–the law which governs how minors are treated under the law–but made it clear that it cannot be applied retrospectively.

“That’s the law,” he said. “The Juvenile Justice Act is a separate law. Whether the age should be reduced, whether it should reduced for certain kinds of offences, what you call heinous offences, is a matter that has to be considered very carefully and within the permissible limits of the Constitution,” said Chidambaram. The ordinance will not be applicable to the December 16 Delhi gangrape case but its provisions on procedural law will help in “quicker completion of the trial”.

A Delhi court on Saturday framed charges of murder, gang-rape, kidnapping and on 10 other counts against five accused involved in the Dec 16 rape of a 23-year-old woman. Of the sex persons accused in the case, one has been declared a minor and will be tried by the Juvenile Justice Board. The juvenile, allegedly the most brutal of the rapits, cannot be given the death penalty and will probably get a prison sentence of no more than three years.

For more information and opinions on this issue, see the Times of India, the Washington Post, and Outlook.

Bill would aid rape victims, The Cincinnati Enquirer

A state representative wants to make sure that women who become mothers as the result of a rape don’t have to share custody with their rapists.

Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, plans to file a bill Tuesday in the General Assembly that will make sure that anyone convicted of first degree rape in which a child was conceived will not have parental or visitation rights. As the law stands, Keene said, a convicted rapist could take his victim to court seeking parental rights to a child.