Lawmakers advance bill aimed at increasing penalty for those who torture children

Investigators resumed their search Thursday for the remains of missing 6-year-old Isabella...
Investigators resumed their search Thursday for the remains of missing 6-year-old Isabella “Ariel” Kalua, a day after her adoptive parents were charged with second-degree murder following a dramatic raid of their home.(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Feb. 19, 2022 at 11:24 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A bill aimed at preventing violence against children is moving forward at the state Capitol.

Senate Bill 2092 would make the torture of a minor a felony.

This measure comes in the aftermath of the investigation into Isabella “Ariel” Kalua’s foster parents, who are accused of locking the young girl in a kennel and starving her.

The bill has a broad definition of torture, including withholding food and causing injury to a child by restraining them.

“The existing statutes regarding abuse simply don’t account for those unfortunately tragic instances of generally caretakers, parents who are doing things to their children,” said Deputy Prosecutor Tricia Nakamatsu.

“That simply may not rise to the level of physical assault, but whose actions are clearly not properly accounted for deterred or even punished by a misdemeanor charge under our current abuse statutes.”

The public defender is worried the definition of torture in the bill is too broad.

“When a parent uses acceptable corporal punishment to teach a lesson to a child, they could be recklessly creating mental anguish as well. And so, you know, a parent is trying to do the right thing, but they may be subject to be prosecuted,” said Deputy Public Defender William Bento.

The measure passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Friday afternoon. The next hearing has not been scheduled.

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