In 2011, a young girl told police that she was being raped by her mother’s boyfriend, Richard Russell McDade. McDade, a 68-year-old ice cream truck driver in Fort Myers, Florida started raping the girl when she was 10 and continued until she was 16. During that time she reported the abuse to her mother, her doctor, and two ministers at her church. Nobody helped her. One day, out of desperation, she decided to record him with an MP3 player concealed under her t-shirt.
In the recordings, McDade said, “he was doing her a favor by not telling her mother that they were having sex because if the mother knew she would take the victim back to Mexico,” and said he would get, “physically sick” if she refused to have sex with him. Police heard the recordings, arrested McDade and he was subsequently convicted of rape. That’s when things got hairy.
In 2014, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that McDade deserved a new trial, overturning his conviction and life sentence, because his victim illegally recorded him. You see, in Florida, it is illegal to record a person without their permission. Yeah, even if that person is a vile rapist.
Child advocates and the general public were outraged that this man was going to receive a new trial and possibly get away with repeatedly raping a child over many years. Lawmakers in the state took notice, and soon HB7001 was introduced.
HB 7001, or the Intercepting and Recording Oral Communications Act, amends the old two-party consent law and makes it legal for children under the age of 17 to record their abusers. The bill states:
It is lawful under [Florida statutes] for a person to intercept and record an oral communication if the person is a party to the communication and has reasonable grounds to believe that the recording 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 a person.
The law was unanimously passed by lawmakers.
Finally Florida lawmakers got something right! They saw a huge loophole that allowed violent criminals to get away with atrocious crimes and they fixed it right away. Not only did they act quickly, but Democrats and Republicans came together and protected us.
Good job Florida!
Featured image via Florida Department of Corrections