May 20, 2015
ALBANY, N.Y. — A Rochester man who suffered through parental abduction as a child was in Albany on Tuesday to fight for tougher laws that will prevent other children going through a similar trauma.
Scott Berne is pushing for tougher legislation against parental abductions.
“My mother did not serve one day of jail time for kidnapping me,” Berne said. “Thirty years ago, it’s the same law. It’s a slap on the wrist.”
“This is an issue with enormous long term consequences for children,” said Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, D-Yonkers.
Berne joined and state Sen. Patty Ritchie, co-sponsors of the Custodial Interference/Recovery of Missing Children Act.
“It really changes the dynamic pretty dramatically, and it puts us in a better position to protect kids when those laws are enhanced,” said Ed Suk, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
According to the Justice Department, 200,000 children are abducted by their parents each year in the U.S., but in New York state, it’s just a misdemeanor.
“During those two years, we changed names constantly, didn’t go to school, had no friends, faced constant abuse from her,” Berne said.
Berne hopes his story can help change that.
“Hearing other cases is very frustrating. Here we are 31 years later and the laws in New York State are not strong enough to keep kids safe,” Berne said.
In the early 1980s, Berne’s story made national headlines. Today, Scott works in real estate in Rochester. He’s also a strong advocate for children’s rights.
“The idea they can take their child, leave the state, the country and put their child at risk is unacceptable.”
Berne has been here before to testify on the subject. He and lawmakers are again making a push.
“It is humbling. Gratitude, absolute gratitude that I survived and now I can use them here 31 years later in keeping kids safe, so other children don’t have to go through what I experienced.”
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