A proposed change to state law inspired by the ongoing search for a missing Tennessee girl would increase penalties against parents or guardians who fail to quickly report a missing child to law enforcement.
Rep. Timothy Hill (R-Blountville), State Rep. John Crawford (R-Kingsport), and State Rep. Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport) are proposing Evelyn's Law in honor of 15-month old Evelyn Boswell.
The little Sullivan County girl hasn't been seen since December and wasn't reported missing until February. Her mother has been arrested for providing false information to authorities as they search for the child.
“This legislation is the result of ongoing conversations with Sullivan County Sheriff Jeff Cassidy, and his input and feedback has helped us create a solution that may be extremely beneficial in these specific instances,” said Rep. Hill. “While we continue to pray for little Evelyn’s safe return, we must continue our work strengthening state laws so we can hold those with no regard for the well-being or safety of their children accountable for their reckless behavior.”
If passed, the updated law would require parents or guardians to verbally report a child in their care is missing, has been abducted, or has run away within 48 hours of that child’s disappearance, followed by a written report as requested by law enforcement.
The law would apply when the parent or guardian doesn't know where the child is.
"Situations where there is knowledge that a child has been abducted, has suffered serious bodily harm, abuse, sexual exploitation, or who has run away would also be included in reporting requirements outlined under Evelyn’s Law," according to a press release.
Under the law, a parent or guardian could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,500 or both.
“I am honored to join with Chairman Hill and Chairman Hulsey to support this initiative that will ultimately provide additional protections for Tennessee children,” said Chairman Crawford. “I appreciate the tireless work of our local law enforcement agencies for their continued efforts on the situation involving Evelyn Boswell, and I look forward to passage of this legislation so we can add another effective tool that our law enforcement and judicial communities can utilize in these instances.”
“Our entire community is in disbelief that the well-being of this child has been jeopardized by an individual entrusted with her care,” said Chairman Hulsey. “We are hopeful this proposed legislation can better assist law enforcement communities across this state so similar situations are avoided in the future and so we can better protect our most innocent citizens.”