Senate Advances Young Offenders Bill

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The Vermont Senate gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a bill aimed at clearing up jurisdictional confusion created when two Bennington judges refused to hear a case involving an 18-year-old man charged with committing sex crimes when he was 13.

Bennington Sen. Richard Sears is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He told his Senate colleagues that Judge David Howard, sitting in the adult criminal court, denied jurisdiction based on the fact that the crimes – alleged sexual assaults on two young boys – were committed by the young man when he was 13. Judge Karen Carroll declined to hear the case as a juvenile matter in Family Court because that court only deals with offenders who are younger than 18.

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