Ky Senate Votes to Broaden Jury Options ‘Vulnerable Victim’ Crimes

Jan 22, 2016

Sen. Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville)
Credit LRC Public Information

A bill intended to help in the prosecution of certain crimes against the very young, disabled, or elderly is on its way to the Kentucky House. 

The measure got unanimous backing in the Senate Thursday.

Hopkinsville Senator and Judiciary Committee Chair Whitney Westerfield says the measure sets out offenses against what he describes as “vulnerable victims.” 

Westerfield told his senate colleagues it would give juries another option to consider.

“And we have victims who are particularly traumatized, because of their age, because of their mental capacity, their developmental disabilities," said Westerfield.  “This bill seeks to protect them." 

The bill’s sponsor  told his colleagues it’s about protecting young children, the disabled, or elderly who can’t articulate when a crime was committed. 

“This bill says that a jury, so long as that jury agrees, can still find guilt, if they unanimously agree on two or more instances of the same conduct under that statute occurred within a particular period of time,” added Westerfield.

The Senate Judiciary Committee Chair says a small child’s sense of time, date, and place isn’t always as accurate as that of an adult.  He argues the measure might deter some predators from seeking out victims who can’t articulate what happened to them.