Editorial: Evelyn’s Law is commendable but needs more teeth

Editorial Board • Mar 10, 2020 at 3:30 PM

When Casey Anthony was found not guilty in the death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee in 2011, many felt justice had not been served. But at the least she might have spent time in prison had Caylee’s Law been in place in Florida then, as it is now.

Caylee’s Law is the unofficial name for bills proposed in various states after the Anthony case. Those bills make it a felony for a parent or legal guardian to fail to report a missing child where the parent knew or should have known that the child was in possible danger.

In Tennessee, that law has been introduced as Evelyn’s Law after the disappearance of 15-month-old Evelyn Boswell of Blountville.

Evelyn Boswell’s grandfather reported her missing on Feb. 18. The last confirmed sighting of Evelyn was Dec. 11 by a babysitter. The child’s mother, Megan Boswell, did not report her missing and was arrested after providing “conflicting, inaccurate statements,” according to Sullivan County Sheriff Jeff Cassidy. “Many of the statements Megan made delayed our investigation and also impeded our investigation on trying to find Evelyn,” said Cassidy.

Introduced by local state Reps. Timothy Hill, John Crawford and Bud Hulsey, Evelyn’s Law would apply in instances when a child’s whereabouts are unknown to a parent or guardian and that individual knows, believes or has substantial reason to believe the child’s whereabouts are unknown to any other individual tasked with temporarily supervising a child. Situations where there is knowledge that a child has been abducted; has suffered serious bodily harm, abuse, or sexual exploitation; or who has run away, would also be included in reporting requirements outlined under Evelyn’s Law.

Some version of Caylee’s Law is on the books or awaiting action in 12 states. In Louisiana, conviction for violating it is punishable by up to a year in prison, while in Florida it’s up to five years, and in Alabama up to 10 years.

Evelyn’s Law would make it one year, and in that and other respects, it is deficient.

It should be a felony. Period. And punishment, at the least, should be up to 10 years. We’re talking protection for the young who cannot protect themselves.