(WPRI) — The Rhode Island General Assembly passed a bill Friday that would fine certain businesses for knowingly hiring a child sex offender.
Target 12 broke the story that prompted action, and now, a new state law is in place to protect children from sexual predators. In the final days of the legislative session, the Alliance for Safe Communities was closely watching its bill about child safe zones.
“This all stemmed from Tim White’s investigation with the incident at Hasbro Children’s Hospital,” said Executive Director of the Alliance for Safe Communities Carolyn Medeiros, “where a level two registered sex offender was found employed there, knowingly,” by the hospital.
The Target 12 Investigators found Jose Moitoso working as an electrician at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital. The convicted sex offender was labeled as having a ‘moderate risk to re-offend’ by the sex offender board of review. After the story aired, Hasbro Children’s Hospital reported that Moitoso’s employment was terminated.
Under the new law, employers of safe zones will be fined if they knowingly hire a sex offender — including third party contractors — where the victim was a minor. Fines and possible jail time will be handed down to such sex offenders who apply for work at a designated safe zone, including health care facilities intended primarily for minors. The law is not retro-active, so while it was inspired by what happened at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, the penalties do not apply to that case.
“We looked at nationwide what was happening,” said Carolyn. “There are 20 other states with similar legislation in place, so this is about Rhode Island catching up.”
There is also an immunity clause, so an employer cannot be sued for not hiring a sex offender under these guidelines.