Editorial: Amendment 2 offers special help for child abuse victims

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Law enforcement authorities say they need more tools to fight child sexual abuse and help put sexual predators behind bars.

Amendment 2, which will be on Missouri election ballot Nov. 4, gives prosecutors and law enforcement officers the help they need.

The proposal would amend the state constitution to give judges the discretion to allow previous acts of sexual violence against minors to be disclosed in court. The federal government and nearly all other states allow juries to learn whether a defendant in a child sexual abuse case may have been accused of similar crimes in the past.

The only reason Missouri doesn’t is because the state Supreme Court struck down a law in 2007 that allowed evidence of past sexual crimes to be used against people facing sex-related charges involving victims younger than 14.

“Evidence of a defendant’s prior criminal acts, when admitted purely to demonstrate the defendant’s criminal propensity, violates one of the constitutional protections vital to the integrity of our criminal justice system,” the court ruled.

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