Pass Jay J’s Law to protect victims of child abuse and deliver justice
Western New York is committed to protecting children, so many of us, as parents and advocates, were appalled when we heard the story of a little boy named Jay J, who suffered severe abuse at the hands of his father.
Jay J is 2 years old, and in the time I’ve spent with him and his family, it was clear he is a very happy, curious kid who brings smiles to faces.
In those ways, Jay J is the typical 2-year-old. Unfortunately, in many other ways, Jay J’s life is different than that of a typical 2-year-old.
That’s because the boy’s father committed unthinkably brutal acts of violence against his own children. This man’s ruthless and repeated violence left Jay J with 11 fractured bones and a severe case of epilepsy. Jay J’s stepgrandmother reports that he has had up to 200 seizures in one day.
What makes this case even more horrendous is that this was not the first time this violent man was convicted of beating his children. In 2007, he was convicted of assault in the third degree after beating another one of his sons and breaking his arm.
However, despite his history of violent behavior and the suffering endured by his children, this man was let off with a relatively light sentence of one and one-third to four years in prison for his violent attacks against Jay J.
Sadly, this was the harshest sentence the judge could impose. It’s simply not enough. This violent offender should be locked up behind bars for far longer than he will be.
While the conviction and sentence were secured through a plea bargain of third-degree assault and attempted second-degree assault, it’s clear the state needs to do more to prevent another child and family from enduring such devastation ever again. Under current statutes, stronger charges for repeat offenders can be levied only if the previous conviction occurred within the preceding three years. In this case, the previous conviction happened in 2007 — four years before the crimes were committed against Jay J.
To fix this gap in state law, we have introduced legislation to strengthen penalties against violent offenders and help protect victims. At the request of Jay J’s family, we have named the bill Jay J’s
Under Jay J’s Law, an adult would be guilty of assault in the first degree if that person causes serious physical injury to a child and has been previously convicted of assault or attempted assault against a person less than 11 years old. First-degree assault is a class B felony.
Jay J’s Law would also amend the crime of aggravated assault upon a person less than 11 years old. A person will be guilty of aggravated assault when he injures a child and has previously been convicted of such a crime within the previous 10 years, instead of the current three years. This crime is also strengthened from a class E felony to a class D felony.
Also, if a third instance of abuse occurs, the crime of aggravated assault upon a person less than 11 years old becomes a class B felony.
Jay J’s maternal grandparents now have full custody of him. Even with his ongoing treatment, they say he suffers 20 to 30 seizures a day. It’s likely that Jay J will have some cognitive troubles as he grows up, but his family says he faces every challenge with a smile on his face.