'Evelyn's Law' advances in Tennessee House

Hank Hayes • May 28, 2020 at 7:00 PM

NASHVILLE — Members of the Tennessee House Criminal Justice Subcommittee on a voice vote have advanced legislation that would increase penalties against parents or guardians who fail to expediently report a missing child to law enforcement or the appropriate agency.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville; Rep. John Crawford, R-Kingsport; and Rep. Bud Hulsey, R-Kingsport.

Known as “Evelyn’s Law” in honor of deceased Sullivan County toddler Evelyn Boswell, House Bill 1309 requires a report of a missing child to law enforcement or the appropriate authority within 48 hours of the child’s disappearance. Under the proposal, failure to report while demonstrating reckless disregard for the safety of that child would be considered a Class A misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,500 or both.

An investigation into the death of the 15-month-old toddler is ongoing. The girl’s mother and sole legal guardian, 18-year-old Megan Boswell, has remained behind bars since being arrested on multiple charges of making false reports.

“Our community hurts as we continue to mourn Evelyn Boswell, and this legislation adds a tool for law enforcement across Tennessee as they investigate cases involving missing children,” said Hill. “I appreciate my colleagues for supporting this legislation, and I know it will close the gap in our current law so we can bring those with disregard for the children of Tennessee to swift justice.”

“House Bill 1309 supports members of our law enforcement and judicial committees as they look to strengthen protections for Tennessee children,” said Crawford. “I am honored to join Chairman Hill and Chairman Hulsey in supporting this initiative, and I look forward to its passage in the House.”

Evelyn’s Law now heads to the full House Judiciary Committee for additional discussion and debate on June 2.

“We remain in disbelief that the well-being of this child was jeopardized by those entrusted with her care,” said Hulsey. “This proposal will better assist our law enforcement communities across this state so similar situations are hopefully avoidable in the future.”

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