Mom of boy kidnapped and assaulted fights for victims' right law

Victims and their families often have to fight another battle in the courtroom. (Source: WOIO)
Victims and their families often have to fight another battle in the courtroom. (Source: WOIO)

NEW PHILADELPHIA, OH (WOIO) - Crime victims often face another battle when their case heads to trial.

Now their families are fighting to get the same rights in the courtroom as suspects accused in their cases.

A victims' rights bill called Marsy's Law will be on the November ballot in Ohio, with that goal.

It would require victims and their families to be notified of all court proceedings in their case.

Cleveland 19 News spoke with a Tuscarawas County mother whose 11-year-old son was kidnapped, beaten and assaulted just over a year ago.

She felt like they were victimized all over again at the courthouse.

Last summer was a nightmare for Maria's family.

We are not identifying her by her last name to protect her son.

"It still doesn't feel real, even though I've been through all of it you know," she said crying.

Her son was assaulted at a playground in Mineral City in June 2016.

"He was in a one block radius of our very small Ohio town, when a transient homeless man abducted him and he tried to take my son's life. My son fought back and won," Maria said.

"He was nicknamed the Mineral City Warrior, and he has beaten every odd handed to us," she said.

But Maria didn't know that this wasn't the end of her family's battle.

The next chapter started at the Tuscarawas County Courthouse.

The prosecutor wanted her son to testify. But since he's a juvenile, Maria objected immediately.

"We fought really hard for eight months for CCTV, which is closed circuit TV, for him to testify so he didn't have to be in the same courtroom as that monster," she said.

Maria was also told she could not be in the courthouse during the trial with her son, since she was also a witness.

But that didn't seem right to her, so she sought out free legal advice from the Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center. Through the work of lawyers, she was able to be there.

Maria's family isn't the only one to face an uphill battle during trial.

Some victims have run into their predator in public, not even knowing they had been released on bail.

"Marsy's Law will really be a voice for all victims," Maria said.

The law would amend the state constitution, allowing victims to speak before a judge and have input on plea deals.

It would also notify victims of every important proceeding in their case.

Maria says Marsy's Law can save other families from their pain.

"You never know when you or a loved one will become a crime victim. If it can happen to me and my family, you just never know," she said.

Marsy's Law was named after a California college student who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.

While suspects have several rights spelled out for them in the constitution, advocates for Marsy's Law say victims' families do not.

The law has passed in California, Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana.

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