Families last week began to push for more advocacy in regard to passage of Nicky’s Law, now known as Senate 2606 and House 4026. The Arc has agreed to coordinate a vigil or related activity with families in the month of November and planning is underway.
In related news, the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities – helmed by Rep. Kay Khan and Sen. Joan Lovely – hosted a hearing on sexual abuse on October 30 (WBUR coverage). The hearing was a reminder that persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are less capable to protect themselves or speak out may be sought out by predators, which is why the incidence of sexual abuse and abuse in general is higher for our constituents. The Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) and the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) provided information in regard to the incidence and response to sexual abuse.
The Arc was invited to testify along with three other groups. All four of the organizations urged the passage of S. 2606/H. 4026 Nicky’s Law (now including parts of Dana’s Law) as one of their recommendations. The bill would ensure a registry holding the names of those persons which the DPPC has substantiated for abuse, but who were not criminally prosecuted.
Chairs Khan, Lovely and the Committee as a whole have strongly supported the bill which passed the Senate in July. House Speaker Robert DeLeo, a long-time friend of families and persons with disabilities, is reviewing the bill. The Arc and other stakeholders have obtained the support of a number of House leaders including that of the minority leader, Rep. Bradley Jones.
We hope that the House will pass the bill during this informal session so we can take one more step in response to abuse. Your voice can make the difference in the next few weeks!
Leo V. Sarkissian