Sentencing Relief for Survivors of Child Trafficking and Abuse Ceremonially Signed

Ponca City Now - August 29, 2023 6:31 am

(L-R) Human Rights for Kids Director of Advocacy & Government Relations Emily Virgin, Rep. Marilyn Stark, Gov. Kevin Stitt, and Sara Kruzan (far right) with daughter Summer

OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation allowing Oklahoma courts to adjust the punishment of an offender who was trafficked, sexually abused or assaulted by the victim was ceremonially signed on Friday.

House Bill 2210, authored by Rep. Marilyn Stark, R-Bethany, states that the offender must have been a minor convicted as an adult for the offense and that the abuse by the victim must have occurred within 90 days. The court may depart from the mandatory minimum sentence, suspend any portion of the sentence or transfer the minor to the juvenile division for further proceedings.

“When a child who has been the victim of a violent, traumatic situation is implicated for a crime against their trafficker, that is not justice. It is cruelty,” Stark said. “These children, and everybody who has found themselves a victim of trafficking and sexual abuse, deserve to be met with empathy and compassion. I am immensely grateful to Governor Stitt for signing this legislation into law and to people like Sara Kruzan who speak up against these injustices.”

Joining the ceremonial bill signing was Sara Kruzan, who was 17 years old when she was sentenced to life in prison for killing the man who forced her into child sex trafficking at age 13. She was tried as an adult and no evidence of the abuse or trauma committed against Kruzan was admitted into evidence. Her sentence was commuted in 2013 and she was pardoned in July 2022.

HB2210 was signed on May 11 and takes effect Nov. 1.

 

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