TRENTON – A key Senate committee today approved a bill sponsored by Senator John A. Girgenti that would imprison those convicted of sex offenses against children for up to five years if they are found to have taken positions in youth organizations involving children under the age of 18.
“The message here for sex offenders is obvious – we don’t want you near our children,” said Senator Girgenti, Chairman of the Senate Law, Public Safety & Veterans Affairs Committee which approved the bill, S-532.
Child sex offenders caught working at a youth organization also could be fined up to $15,000, according to the Girgenti bill.
Sanctions under the Girgenti bill also would ban employment in youth groups for those found not guilty of a sex offense against someone under age 18 by reason of insanity.
A youth organization is defined in the bill as a sports team, league, athletic association or any other corporation or organization which provides “recreational, educational, cultural, social, charitable or other activities” to persons under 18 years of age.
Current state law allows youth groups to request criminal background checks for their employees and volunteers on a voluntary basis.
“This bill will provide real incentives for ensuring child safety by cracking down hard on those offenders who should not be near children,” said Senator Girgenti, D-Passaic and Bergen.
To dissuade organizers of youth groups from failing to weed out child sex offenders from their work force, the Girgenti bill also would include a maximum penalty of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for anyone who knowingly hires or allows a child sex offender to work with a youth organization.
“There’s no excuse for knowingly allowing a child sex offender to work closely with children,” Senator Girgenti said.
The measure now goes to the full Senate for consideration.