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Honoring the Life and Work of Harriet Tubman

March 10, 2019

Today the Utah Attorney General’s Office honors the life and work of anti-slavery activist, Harriet Tubman. Born into slavery herself, Tubman later became an armed scout and spy for the United States Army during the American Civil War before leading multiple missions on the Underground Railroad to rescue enslaved families and friends. As an abolitionist and humanitarian, Harriet Tubman is the personification of courage and determination to many of us who fight to eradicate current forms of modern-day slavery.

We invite you to rediscover Harriet Tubman’s dedicated pursuit of American ideals which continue to serve and inspire all who cherish freedom. We highly recommend the exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Philips Gallery.


Celebrating International Women’s Day

March 8, 2019

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined Sheroes United to promote the triumph of the human spirit over the tragedies of human trafficking, domestic violence, and abuse.

Attorney General Reyes paid tribute to the influential women in his life and emphasized the importance of education and engagement. He honored the survivors who have become trailblazers in the fight for safety, dignity, and justice. Their voices continue to fuel and inspire the Utah Attorney General’s Office and partners such as Sheroes United in their ongoing work on behalf of the people of the State of Utah.

Join us in celebrating International Women’s Day by honoring the women in your life and their fundamental role in shaping our communities, governments, and businesses.

Find out more about Sheroes United here: https://www.sheroesunited.org/


Justice Delayed in Von Lester Taylor Case

March 8, 2019

Last week, a federal judge issued a ruling that severely delays the execution of admitted double-murderer Von Lester Taylor, who pled guilty. While we respect the United States District Court and this judge in particular, the decision causes us great concern. The State of Utah must now prepare for a new phase of prolonged litigation as the victims and their families wait even longer for justice.

First, a little history.

In 1990, Von Lester Taylor and Edward Deli committed a Christmastime home-invasion and robbery. You can Google this.  Both men were armed. During the incident, Kaye Tiede and her elderly mother, Beth Potts, died of multiple gunshot wounds. Later, Taylor admitted firing the first shot, and Mrs. Tiede’s daughter witnessed Taylor shoot her mother.  Both daughters (aged 17 and 20 at the time) saw Taylor shoot their father, Rolf Tiede. Rolf was then set on fire.  Rolf survived but has since passed away. After the shootings, Taylor and Deli kidnapped the daughters, but were captured by police before making it out of the county.      

Last Week’s Ruling

After several years of argument and evidence about whether Taylor fired any of the shots that inflicted the victims’ fatal wounds, a federal judge found that he did not, rejecting the state’s arguments (and Taylor’s own admissions) that he is guilty of capital murder. It’s clear that he fired shots and participated, at the very least, as an accomplice. However, the court declared Taylor “actually innocent.”

It is the view of the State of Utah that Taylor is not innocent at all.

This federal review of Taylor’s 1991 guilty plea and death sentence has spanned twelve years so far. We’re concerned that the court’s ruling now permits Taylor to raise dozens of new complaints and further delay justice for the victims and their families.

“This ruling does not send Mr. Taylor home or even give him a new trial,” said Utah Assistant Solicitor General Andrew Peterson. “However, it means that Taylor can now exploit a technicality to delay justice.  He will do this by bringing claims in federal court that he should have raised in the state courts decades ago.”

Peterson estimates that technicality will delay Taylor’s execution by as much as another decade.

“This decision disregards Utah accomplice liability law, Taylor’s multiple confessions and, most distressingly, the feelings of the victims’ family who have pleaded for speedy justice,” Peterson said.

Next Steps

The State of Utah is now preparing for prolonged litigation, at the same time exploring all available options in response to the federal court’s ruling.


Utah AG Offers 5 Tips to Protect Yourself from Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2019

 

DURING NATIONAL AWARENESS WEEK UTAH AG SHARES FIVE TIPS TO FIGHT FRAUD

SALT LAKE CITY – In observance of National Consumer Protection Week, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes reminded Utah citizens to defend themselves from fraud by observing the following five tips:

     1. Guard Your Personal Information
Scammers often pretend to be someone reputable such as a business, government entity, or a charity. They may claim they need to verify your personal information, or you owe them money. Whether it’s over the phone, email, social media, or in person, don’t give out your personal information. This includes banking and financial information, your birthdate, and social security number.
     2. Don’t Believe Everything You See
Technology makes it easy for scammers to alter what is displayed on your caller ID, so the information isn’t always correct. If someone contacts you asking for money or your personal information, you can always hang up and call the business or entity back at a number that you can confirm.
     3. Consider Payment Methods
Credit cards are the safest way to pay online because you can dispute the charges and they often have built-in fraud protection. However, not all money transfers have the same protections. Wiring money, for instance, is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. This is also true for gift cards. Most government offices and honest companies won’t ask you to use these payment methods. Should you be asked to provide financial or other sensitive information online, make sure that the address in the URL changes to “https” or “shttp” instead of just “http”.
     4. Do Your Homework
With any online or phone transaction that you conduct, always look up the business or entity online to make sure they are reputable. This goes for anyone asking for money or personal information. You can also check with the Utah Consumer Protection Division and the Utah Better Business Bureau to see if the person/organization is credible.
     5. Be Careful Where You Click
Never click on any links from unsolicited emails or text messages. These links can download malware onto your computer and potentially steal your identity. Even if it looks familiar, it can be fake. The best approach to receiving these emails or text messages is to simply delete them.

“Utah is a very trusting state which is good in many ways unless you trust the wrong person,” said Attorney General Reyes. “President Ronald Reagan often said, “Trust but verify.” One of the most effective ways to immunize yourself from fraud is to verify information before doing business with anyone, even those you know well.”
 
“The bad news is these cases are so prevalent. The good news is we are perhaps more effective today than ever at fighting scams in Utah. The famous fraudster turned federal agent, Frank Abagnale, has said publicly he has never worked with a better team than the Utah AG Office at fighting fraud, cyber-crimes and identify theft.”

How the Utah Attorney General’s Office Combats Fraud

The Utah Attorney General’s Office and partner agencies are committed to combating fraud and protecting citizens’ rights.

In an age where technology is abundant and quickly evolving, scammers and hackers prey upon unsuspecting people – this costs them time, money, and stress. The Utah Attorney General’s Office is devoted to educating people on how they can protect themselves in an effort to prevent anyone from falling victim to fraudulent situations, and to providing resources and time to directly battling the growing threat of fraud.

In 2016, the Utah Attorney General’s Office launched the White Collar Crime Offender Registry (WCCOR), the nation’s first website that provides consumers with a central database of white-collar offenders. It allows investors to look up white-collar offenders and protect themselves from financial fraud. Since its launch, the WCCOR has been accessed in 119 countries and hosts over 200 offenders convicted in Utah. In the current 2019 Utah Legislative Session, the AG’s Office is working with Senator Curt Bramble on SB234 White Collar Crime Registry which enacts penalties for failure to register. 

This last year, the Utah Attorney General’s Office worked alongside the Utah Division of Consumer Protection and 49 other attorneys general to reach a settlement with Wells Fargo after they opened 3.5 million fraudulent bank accounts in consumers’ names without their knowledge or consent. Utah received $10 million in the settlement, which went into the Division of Consumer Protection’s Education Fund.

Attorney General Reyes is fighting big corporate data breaches that can lead to citizen identity theft. He is working with Senator Lyle W. Hillyard and Representative V. Lowry Snow on SB193, which strengthens Utah’s data breach laws. The Utah Attorney General’s Office works closely with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection and other states’ attorneys general to enforce data breach laws and to sanction large corporations that fail to properly secure their customers’ personal information. For example, last year Utah received nearly a million dollars from a settlement with Uber over delayed reporting of a data hack that stole Uber drivers’ license numbers.

Attorney General Reyes announced last year that he joined a bipartisan group of 40 state attorneys general to stop or reduce annoying and harmful robocalls. The coalition is reviewing the technology major telecom companies. The Utah Department of Commerce consistently receives reports from Utah consumers of illegal robocalls. These robocalls often fake caller ID information on phones and pitches student loan debt consolidation, vacation packages, timeshare resales, among other areas. Illegal robocalls and spoofing have cost Americans billions of dollars in fraudulent claims. Attorney General Reyes and the coalition are working to minimize these unwanted robocalls and illegal telemarketing.

The AG’s Office is also home to the Mortgage and Financial Fraud Unit and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit that investigate and prosecute fraud committed within the State of Utah. Both divisions pursue justice on behalf of the state and victims of fraud and vigorously applies resources toward investigation, prosecution, and financial remedies and recovery.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office encourages all Utahns to participate in National Consumer Protection Week by taking advantage of the resources available, reviewing the ways to safeguard information and finances, and teaching the Five Tips to family and friends.

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Op-ed: Utah Hate Crimes law will protect all of us

March 5, 2019

By Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, and ADL Central Pacific Regional Director Seth Brysk

This session, the Utah State Legislature can take an important step toward protecting our freedom. SB103 (Victim Targeting Penalty Enhancements sponsored by Sen. Daniel Thatcher) recognizes the unique impact of a crime targeting individuals or institutions on the basis of how they pray, the color of their skin or their sexual orientation or identity, among other characteristics. The heinous nature of such crimes and the greater impact on the community is absolutely deserving of an enhanced punishment.

The proposed hate crime statute does not favor some over others or seek to punish speech or thought. The Attorney General’s office and Anti-Defamation League, the agency that innovated hate crime legislation, stand united to set the record straight about this bill and hate crimes laws in general.

Fact: Hate crime laws do not police or punish speech or thought.

Speech is protected under the constitution and cannot and should not be criminalized. A hate crime law like SB103 does not punish speech or thought. Instead, it may provide a penalty enhancement for a crime where it is proven to be motivated by prejudice.

Fact: Hate and bias is often the primary, if not sole, motive for a hate crime.

The perpetrator’s animus toward race, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability — actual or perceived — is the reason for the crime. In the vast majority of cases, absent the victim’s personal characteristic, no crime would occur.

Fact: Hate crimes are message crimes.

The purpose of a hate crime is to send a message to the victim and the victim’s community. Men beaten outside of a gay bar are rarely robbed. Vandals do not typically spray-paint messages like gang tags on the side of synagogues; instead the vandalism frequently consists of threats or a swastika. Bigots do not burn random shapes on the front lawns of African-American families who moved into a previously all-white neighborhood. The message of such shapes would mean nothing. But the charred remains of a burned cross send a clear message. The message is one of intolerance, exclusion and hate.

Fact: Hate crimes affect entire communities, in addition to individuals.

The alleged perpetrator of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh in October 2018 aimed to deliver a message of hate to all Jews. He did not know his victims. He harbored animus toward the community and his attack impacted Jews nationally and globally. Members of the Jewish community around the world envisioned themselves in the pews in Pittsburgh. In the following weeks, synagogues across the country and around the world increased security to reassure members of their safety. Allies attended services at congregations to demonstrate solidarity.

This is not a new phenomenon. More than one hundred years ago, in the aftermath of the only documented lynching of a Jew in American history, half of Atlanta’s Jewish community, the largest in the American South, fled the state. Many of those who remained hid aspects of their Jewish observance. The American Psychological Association confirms that hate crimes cause targeted communities to feel unwelcome and unsafe. Hate crime statutes send a countervailing message that society will not accept the intimidation and terrorization of segments of our community.

Fact: Hate crimes are more violent than other crimes.

A Northeastern University study found that hate crimes are more likely to involve physical injury and, compared to other assaultive crimes, are three times more likely to lead to hospitalization. The severity of and motivation for a crime are legitimate sentencing considerations.

Fact: Hate crime statutes are constitutional.

Over the past 40 years, federal and state hate crime laws have been upheld against a variety of challenges under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection and due process clauses, and under the First Amendment. In 1993, in Wisconsin v. Mitchell the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of hate crimes statutes in an opinion written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. The Supreme Court found the statute was intended to address conduct that the state legislature thought would “inflict greater individual and societal harm.” It also held that the statute was consistent with established anti-discrimination laws, narrowly tailored, and that enhanced penalties for racially motived crimes do not violate First Amendment rights.

Fact: Hate crime laws protect us all.

In the case of Wisconsin v. Mitchell, the court upheld the conviction and enhanced sentence when a racist assault by a group of young black men targeted a white boy. Protected classes enumerated in a hate crime statute shield individuals or groups on all sides selected on the basis of race (e.g. Caucasian or Latino), gender (e.g. male or female), sexual orientation (e.g. straight or gay) or religion (e.g. Christian or Muslim), and so on.

On a personal level, we have both felt the terror of being threatened or assaulted for racial, religious or other reasons motivated by hate. These experiences have left us and our families fearful of leaving our homes and caused sleepless nights worrying about when the hate will strike next. While crimes motivated by hate may not meet the legal definition of terrorism, that is exactly what they represent.

Thankfully, these crimes do not occur every day in Utah. But when they do happen, they tear at the very fabric of our society. All Utahns deserve robust protection from crimes inspired by hate.

This op-ed was originally published in the Deseret News on March 3, 2019.


Former UVU Employees Charged with Financial Misconduct

March 6, 2019

The Utah Attorney General’s Office filed criminal charges against two former Utah Valley University (UVU) employees yesterday and is seeking restitution on behalf of the University.

The criminal charges are the result of an investigation conducted in May 2016, when UVU informed the Attorney General’s Office of suspected financial misconduct by Jennifer Clegg, the former financial manager of the University’s former Technology & Computing College, and her husband Phil Clegg, the former associate dean of students. UVU provided documentation to assist the Attorney General’s Office following a court order.

The University was first made aware of the misconduct after investigating a complaint received via their anonymous hotline (EthicsPoint) alleging that Jennifer Clegg was misusing her position to conduct private business during work hours. As a result of the investigation, Jennifer Clegg’s employment was terminated, and Phil Clegg resigned from his position.

In the interest of protecting victims and the integrity of the investigation, details of the case may not be discussed beyond this brief statement. Any questions regarding the criminal case can be directed to the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

Read UVU’s statement.


Pawn Shop Owners Enter Plea Agreements to Felony Charges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 5, 2019


BIG DOG PAWN & JEWELRY OWNERS ENTER PLEA AGREEMENTS TO FELONY CHARGES


SALT LAKE CITY – Today, the Utah Attorney General’s Office announced that the principal owners of Big Dog Pawn & Jewelry of Murray, Inc., have entered plea agreements to felony charges after investigations into the pawn shop revealed unlawful activity, including money laundering and receiving stolen property.

On June 19, 2018, Special Agents from the Utah Attorney General’s Office served search warrants on seven different pawn shops, one being Big Dog Pawn & Jewelry, and seized several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of new-in-the-box merchandise alleged to be stolen from various local retailers.

Monte McKee, 68, and Kelli Carpenter, 43, were charged with felony Pattern of Unlawful Activity, Money Laundering, and several Misdemeanor counts of Receiving Stolen Property. On February 8th, both defendants entered a Plea in Abeyance to the felony Pattern of Unlawful Activity charge and the remaining counts were dismissed. No judgment of convictions will be entered pending good behavior probation.

Pursuant to the plea agreement, both defendants agree not to be involved in the pawn industry in the future, and Big Dog Pawn & Jewelry, Inc., which is no longer in business, will be dissolved.

Additionally, the defendants waived any claim to the seized property. Retailers who believe they were victims of retail theft and whose merchandise may have been pawned at that location are encouraged to file claims with the court in Third District Court case no. 180906356.

In response to this investigation, Representative Eric K. Hutchings introduced HB 394 Pawnshop and Secondhand Merchandise Amendments in the 2019 Legislative Session on February 21, 2019. This bill clarifies definitions regarding pawn shops, clarifies that a pawn or secondhand merchandise dealer may not accept certain property, improves the central database, limits the amount of transactions between a pawnbroker and an individual, and provides online training of shops and law enforcement.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office would like to thank all the law enforcement agencies and local officers who assisted in serving the warrants and evidence seizures. Special thanks are offered to Supervisory Special Agents Chris Walden and James Russell of the Utah Attorney General’s Office and to Detective Parsons Metzkow of the Unified Police Department.

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Notes:

  1. More background and information on HB 394 Pawnshop and Secondhand Merchandise Amendments: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/HB-394-Pawnshop-Amendments.pdf
  2. Monte McKee’s case number is 181911855 in the Third District Court.
  3. Kelli Carpenter’s case number is 181911857 in the Third District Court.

U.S. Supreme Court Denies GOP Appeal Over Election Law SB54

March 4, 2019

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the Utah Republican Party’s request to review a law that allows a dual path to the ballot for political candidates. Candidates seeking election can either collect signatures, go through the caucus-convention system, or both.

A Short History of SB 54

SB54 Elections Amendments was passed in the 2014 Legislative Session. Over the next several years, a series of lawsuits were filed by the Utah Republican Party (URP) and others.

  • In December 2014, the URP filed the first lawsuit against Governor Herbert and Lieutenant Governor Cox. In the lawsuit, the URP sought a preliminary injunction to stay the implementation of SB54. The court denied that request.
  • In November 2015, the court closed the first case, rejecting nearly all of the claims in the first lawsuit and leaving SB54 largely intact.
  • In January 2016, the URP filed a second lawsuit against Lieutenant Governor Cox, and the court held a hearing to discuss the claims that SB54 was unconstitutional.
  • In February 2016, the Utah States District Court for the District of Utah certified two questions of state law to the Utah Supreme Court, which responded that a political party must allow its members to seek the party’s nomination through either or both methods of collecting signatures.
  • In April 2016, the Utah States District Court for the District of Utah upheld the law as constitutional. In response, the URP appealed the District Court’s grant of summary judgment.
  • In March 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment upholding the dual-track nomination system.
  • In October 2018, the Party petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Tenth Circuit’s decision upholding SB54. This morning, that petition was denied.

Links:

SB 54 Frequently Asked Questions

Utah Solicitor General Tyler Green’s Brief to U.S. Supreme Court on SB54

3/4/19 U.S. Supreme Court Order

GOP Chairman Rob Anderson’s Statement

Keep My Voice Executive Director Phill Wright’s Statement

Salt Lake Tribune – Long legal battles over Utah election law end as U.S. Supreme Court refuses to accept GOP appeal

Deseret News – U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear GOP appeal of candidate nomination law

Fox 13 – U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear Utah GOP’s lawsuit over political candidates who gather signatures

Utah Policy – Supreme Court rejects appeal over SB54, meaning Utah’s law allowing candidates to gather signatures stands…for now


Gold King Lawsuit to Compel EPA Cleanup Will Proceed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2019

 

GOLD KING LAWSUIT TO COMPEL EPA CLEANUP WILL PROCEED
Federal judge rejects EPA’s arguments to avoid responsibility

SALT LAKE CITY – Yesterday afternoon, a federal judge denied EPA’s request to escape liability for the Gold King Mine Blowout, a massive spill of three-million gallons of toxic mining waste in August 2015 that contaminated rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. Chief Judge William P. Johnson of the U.S. District Court for New Mexico denied EPA’s motion to dismiss the lawsuits filed by the states and private parties, rejecting EPA’s arguments that it was immune from liability for the cleanup and damages caused by the Blowout.  
 
EPA sought dismissal despite its prior public announcements that it accepted responsibility for the Blowout and had promised to work with the states to repair the damage. The Court pointed to Utah’s showing that EPA has taken no cleanup action in Utah to date and has no timetable to do so. EPA caused one of the largest inland pollution events in the nation’s history, causing hazardous wastes to be spread along the Animas and San Juan Rivers and in Lake Powell.
 
“This is a great victory for the environment and the communities affected by the Gold King Mine Blowout,” said Utah Governor Gary Herbert. “Protecting the health of our families and the precious environment of Utah should be our shared goal with EPA. We would much prefer EPA to focus now on cleanup efforts rather than continuing to litigate.”
 
“The Court is sending a strong message that EPA must be held as equally responsible as other polluters to clean up its contamination,” said Sean D. Reyes, Utah Attorney General. “I understand these events occurred during a prior administration. But the current administration, rather than litigating, can resolve this by working with us to restore a clean environment, which is our legacy for the next generation of Utahns. Utah is only enforcing the type of environmental laws EPA is duty bound to uphold—the same type of laws EPA would be aggressively prosecuting if the polluters were private parties.”
 
The Court’s ruling comes on the same day as the Senate confirmed Andrew Wheeler as EPA’s Administrator. A copy of the Court’s order and opinion is attached.
 

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NOTES:

1. Federal District Court Judge William Johnson Memorandum Opinion and Order: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/New-Mexico-Order.pdf 

2. Frequently asked questions regarding the Gold King Mine case can be read here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/faq-gold-king-mine/ 



Federal Bipartisan Bill Will Protect Adopted Children from Rehoming

In December of 2017, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, a member of the National Working Group on Unregulated Custody Transfer, sent a letter to Congress identifying areas in which state and federal law could be changed to help prevent or eliminate rehoming. Rehoming is an unregulated custody transfer (UCT) practice in which children are given away by adoptive parents to strangers without any form of home study, background checks, or legal transfer of parental rights or responsibilities, often subjecting these children to emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse. In the letter, Attorney General Reyes referenced House Bill 199, a bill passed into law during the 2017 Utah State Legislative Session to address UCT, making Utah the first state to criminalize this practice. Yesterday, Congressmen Jim Langevin and Don Bacon introduced legislation to combat UCT. In their press release, they quoted Attorney General Reyes, who helped raise awareness of the issue, leading to the inclusion of  UCT in the federal definition of child abuse and neglect under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). The press release in regard to this new legislation is below.


OFFICE OF CONGRESSMAN
JIM LANGEVIN

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 27, 2019

 

CONTACT
Stuart Malec
(401) 486-6007

 

Bipartisan Bill Will Protect Adopted Children from Rehoming

Legislation closes loophole in federal law to allow state child welfare agencies to investigate suspected cases of unregulated custody transfers

WASHINGTON – Congressmen Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Don Bacon (R-NE) today introduced legislation to combat unregulated custody transfers (UCT) of adopted children to strangers, a dangerous practice known as “rehoming”. The Safe Home Act would close a loophole in federal law by clearly establishing that UCT is child abuse.  

In 2013, Reuters shined a national spotlight on UCT with a series of investigative reports on parents and guardians seeking to abandon their adopted children by “advertising” them on online forums. These underground transfers occur without background checks, home studies, or any of the oversight that legal adoption mandates. By changing the definition of child abuse to explicitly include UCT, the Safe Home Act provides state child welfare agencies with clear authority to properly investigate these cases.

“Unregulated custody transfers jeopardize the well-being and safety of adopted children,” said Congressman Langevin. “Child protective services need clear guidance to ensure they can protect children subject to re-homing and to hold those who put them at risk accountable. The Safe Home Act will do just that by updating federal law to put an end to this disturbing practice.” 

“The Safe Home Act will provide needed protections for vulnerable children at risk and prevent the rehoming of adopted children,” said Congressman Bacon. “Our kids deserve safety, warmth, and stability and I look forward to working with Congressman Langevin to get this bill passed.”

“I am so grateful our federal partners are taking action on this critical issue,” said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, a member of the National Working Group on Unregulated Custody Transfer. “Utah is proud to have passed the first state law criminalizing UCT, a growing threat to our children. We are honored the bill sponsors Rep. Langevin and Rep. Bacon build on this work to further protect vulnerable children, assist families who adopt and combat human trafficking nationwide.”

“In most states, there are few protections if a family decides to relinquish their adopted child,” said Maureen Flatley, a national child welfare expert who is participating in the upcoming Capitol Hill UCT briefing on Thursday. “With this powerful bill, Congressman Langevin is taking on the dangerous practice of unregulated custody transfer to ensure that children are protected in all fifty states. We owe adopted children vigilance and safety. This legislation ensures that there are clear definitions and that the states have concrete requirements when it comes to protecting kids.”  

The Safe Home Act adds UCT as a form of child abuse and neglect under the definitions found in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). Specifically, the definition will allow temporary placement with a trusted relative but foreclose any permanent placement with a stranger. Beyond reducing ambiguity at child protective services agencies, the definitional change will allow states access to additional federal funds to counter the practice. The bill also requires the Department of Health and Human Services to issue specific guidance related to UCT and to report to Congress on the prevalence of the practice. In 2015, the Government Accountability Office released a report, requested by Langevin, that looked into steps states and child welfare agencies had taken to prevent rehoming. The Safe Home Act draws upon that report and the findings of the National Working Group on UCT.

Langevin and Bacon will host a Capitol Hill briefing with experts and advocates tomorrow, February 28, to further explore policies to prevent UCT.

Unregulated Custody Transfers of Adopted Youth: Understanding and Preventing “Rehoming”
Thursday, February 28, 2019
11 AM – 12 PM  
122 Cannon House Office Building 
Washington, DC 20515

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