(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) Rep. Timothy Hill (R-Blountville), State Rep. John Crawford (R-Kingsport), and State Rep. Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport) today introduced an amendment to existing legislation that will increase penalties against parents or guardians who fail to expediently report a missing child to a law enforcement officer or appropriate agency.
The existing legislation will now be known as Evelyn’s Law in honor of 15-month-old missing Sullivan County toddler Evelyn Boswell, and it requires 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.
This law applies in instances where a child’s whereabouts are unknown to a parent or guardian and that individual knows, believes, or has substantial reason to believe the child’s whereabouts are unknown to any other individual tasked with temporarily supervising a child. 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.
“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.”
As a result of Evelyn’s Law, failure to report or delaying a report while demonstrating reckless disregard for the safety of a child will now be considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,500 or both.
If a parent or guardian fails to report or delay reporting with reckless disregard resulting in serious bodily harm or death, they will now be charged with a Class C felony, punishable by three to fifteen years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
“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.”