TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A Senate Republican has filed a proposal that would allow children under age 18 to secretly record conversations involving people who have abused them or are potential abusers.

The proposal, filed by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, appears to be broader than two bills filed earlier to address the issue.

The bills come after the Florida Supreme Court last year ordered a new trial for a man sentenced to life in prison for sexually abusing his stepdaughter. Justices ruled that recordings made by Richard R. McDade’s stepdaughter should not have been allowed into his Lee County trial.

State law generally bars recording of conversations unless all parties agree, and it also prevents such recordings from being used as evidence in court. Benaquisto’s bill would create an exemption to the law for children if recording a conversation “will capture a statement by another party to the communication that the other party intends to commit, is committing, or has committed an unlawful act of physical force or violence against the child.”

The other bills were more narrowly worded to address young victims of sexual abuse.

“I will not stand by while child predators navigate loopholes in our legal system,” Benacquisto said in a prepared statement Wednesday.”Fear of not being believed prevents countless children from turning in their abusers.”

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


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