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Buffalo's Million March Against Child Abuse

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley
Buffalo's Million March Against Child Abuse

Citizens marched in downtown Buffalo Monday as part of the National Million March Against Child Abuse. The Buffalo Million March Against Child Abuse kicked off at Lafayette Square to Court Street and ended with a huge rally on the steps of City Hall.

Among those speaking out at the rally was Kevin Retzer. He is the great-uncle of three year old Jay J Bolvin of North Tonawanda. 

Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley
3-year-old Jay J

Jay J was badly abused by his own father as an infant that caused permanent brain damage. 

"If you see something, say something. Child abuse stops when we stop it," said Retzer.

300-cities in 50-states held similar marches Monday.http://youtu.be/rbHDKHa3XVQ

State Senator Tim Kennedy of Buffalo has renewed the statewide push for Jay J's Law to strengthen child abuse laws. It would crackdown on repeat child abuse. 

“Jay J will have to fight through lifelong struggles after the abuse he suffered, but his abuser was let off with a light sentence. It’s time we crackdown on child abuse and ensure people who hurt children end up behind bars for a long, long time. This legislation will fix state law to better protect victims of child abuse and ensure justice is served,” said Senator Kennedy. “As Jay J recovers from the violent abuse he endured, he’s relying on us to stand up for him and help secure justice for all children who’ve been abused or neglected across our state.”

The bill was passed in the senate, but stalled in the Assembly.

The Buffalo senator and other local advocates are now ramping up efforts to get the measure in both the Senate and Assembly and onto the Governor's desk before the end of this legislative session.  

Jay J’s Law will crackdown on repeat child abuse by enacting the following changes to the penal code:

·      Jay J’s Law amends aggravated assault upon a person less than 11 years old. An individual will be guilty of aggravated assault if he severely injures a child and has been previously convicted of assault or attempted assault upon a child in the preceding 10 years, instead of the current three years.

·      Aggravated assault upon a person less than 11 years old is increased from a class E felony to a class D felony. A third child abuse conviction would make aggravated assault upon a person less than 11 years old a class B felony.

·      In severe cases, Jay J’s Law will also allow law enforcement to charge individuals who recklessly commit serious repeat child abuse with first-degree assault, a class B felony.

A class D felony carries a maximum sentence of 7 years, while a class B felony has a maximum sentence of 25 years – much stronger penalties than what was given to Jay J’s violent abuser.