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House Republicans Announce Plan to Protect Schoolchildren from Juvenile Sex Offenders

January 31st, 2024 by WCBC Radio

House Republicans today announced their efforts to change state law to protect school children. According to media reports, a 15-year-old juvenile who pleaded guilty to second-degree rape in Harford County was not incarcerated by the Department of Juvenile Services, who, amazingly, recommended probation and counseling. The juvenile was ordered to have no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 15 and the court also required school attendance or participation in a GED program. The Harford County incident occurred in 2023 and the victim was three years old. The juvenile sex offender was also charged in September in Baltimore County for a separate incident that occurred in 2022 when the offender was 13. The victim in that incident was two years old.

“There are many disturbing and infuriating elements to this situation,” said House Minority Leader Jason Buckel. “First, the Department of Juvenile Services thought it was acceptable to release this individual back into the community. Then, this individual was permitted to attend a public school where not even the school’s administration was made aware of his crimes. This is unconscionable.”

This issue was brought to the attention of the media by the mother of one of the victims.

“It should not be up to the victims’ families to warn the community that a sexual predator is attending school with our children,” said Delegate Kathy Szeliga. “But thank goodness for this mother who took this brave step to reach out and alert us all to what was happening. We must now move forward, hold our juvenile justice system accountable, and change the law to protect all children from sex offenders.”

The House Republicans plan a two-pronged approach to address the issue legislatively.


Delegate Nino Mangione will be introducing the Student Protection Act which will prohibit juvenile sex offenders from attending public school in person.


“Any rational person knows that child sex offenders do not belong in our schools,” said Delegate Mangione. “But it is sadly apparent that the juvenile justice system in this state makes decisions that defy both logic and reason. To keep our schools and children safe, we must pass legislation that keeps juvenile sex offenders from attending school in person.”


With legislative deadlines looming that could delay Delegate Mangione’s bill, Republicans also plan to address the issue through an amendment to House Bill 319, the Juvenile Justice Restoration Act. This bill is a Republican initiative to address juvenile crime in Maryland. Delegate Nic Kipke, who, along with Delegate Szeliga, is a lead sponsor of the legislation, will offer an amendment that will prohibit juvenile sex offenders from attending school in person.


“As a father, it is chilling to me that there are individuals out there capable of committing such heinous crimes against innocent children,” said Delegate Kipke. “The knowledge that some of these individuals have not only avoided incarceration but are attending school with our children is absolutely horrifying. This is an urgent matter that needs swift action from the General Assembly.”


“This is an abominable situation that speaks to the failure of our juvenile system,” said Delegate Szeliga. “We will continue to pursue this issue and hold accountable those individuals who allowed a repeat child rapist to go free.”