RICHMOND (WRIC) - A bill aimed at protecting children from sexual predators dies in the House and supporters say they want answers.
The bill would have increased funding for law enforcement officers that investigate sexual predators and rescue children. It also would have created a program to educate kids on how to protect themselves, not using any tax dollars but funded by increased court fees for convicted felons.
It's a measure that gained the support of both the Alexis Murphy and Morgan Harrington families.
Camille Cooper with protect, a nonprofit aimed at protecting children from abuse, says she blames the chairman of the committee where the bill died.
"We can prevent future sexual assaults to the tune of thousands and we're taking hundreds of predators every year off the street," she says. "Delegate Lingamfelter has been opposed to this from the beginning, I don't know why."
8News called Del. Lingamfelter, left a message and sent him an email asking for an explanation. We're still waiting to hear back. We asked the bill's sponsor why it was killed who said he believed there were funding concerns.
"I believe the funding concerns have been addressed in the bill and there shouldn't be any funding concerns," says Del. Ben Cline.
The bill would have also created a "child safety test" as part of physical education to teach kids how to recognize dangerous situations with sexual predators and how to get out of those situations, a move Gil Harrington, Morgan's mother, says could help protect kids from sexual predators.
"Education really needs to begin earlier, to incorporate in elementary school seems like a brilliant way to fill a need," she says.
Meanwhile supporters are hopeful a Senate version of the bill, expected to pass, will make it to the House and eventually pass.
Similar bills aimed at educating kids on identifying sexual predators and reporting them to police have passed in several states across the country.
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