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AG Lays Out Priorities For Preventing Child Abuse, Exploitation

Josh James

Kentucky’s top law enforcement official wants more authority for his office when it comes to prosecuting human trafficking cases in the state, but the initiative is just one priority among many.

Testifying before a House task force Monday, Attorney General Andy Beshear presented his goals for preventing child abuse and exploitation.

At the top of his legislative to-do list is a measure that found unanimous support in the House but failed to gain traction in a Senate committee this year – it would grant the AG’s office what’s called “concurrent jurisdiction” in human trafficking cases.

"What we currently have the power to do is investigate, but we don't have the original jurisdiction to prosecute. We can only come in at somebody's invitation or after they turn it down," Beshear tells WUKY. "The problem with that is you haven't lived with that case, you haven't breathed it, you haven't gotten to guide the investigation for a period of time."

Of the 169 reports of possible trafficking last year, only 11 resulted in a criminal investigation – and Beshear argues the cases would benefit from another pair of eyes in Frankfort.

Also on the list: amending statutory rape laws to provide more protection for 16 and 17-year-olds and extending the statute of limitations for civil recovery for victims of child sexual abuse.