Brooklyn Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte on Monday introduced legislation to protect minors from false reports against them.
Jeremiah, a nine-year-old African-American boy, was wrongfully accused by Teresa Klein, a white woman, also known as “Cornerstore Caroline,” of sexually assaulting her.
Bichotte, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn, said that Klein’s accusation “caused the community to react to condemnation, resulting in heightened racial tension.”
The Haitian American legislator said this incident is similar to others across the nation, “where black people have been targets for arbitrary police calls.”
“Irresponsible acts such as this can severely impact the lives of those accused as it did with Jeremiah who was traumatized after being falsely accused of groping a white woman in a grocery store, similar to an incident in 1955 that led to the brutal murder of Emmett Till,” Bichotte said.
“The community was diligent in speaking out against the actions of Teresa Klein and was especially disheartened by the news because Jeremiah is a respectful young scholar,” she added.
Bichotte, therefore, said legislation needs to be present to protect the most vulnerable groups, such as minors and those in predominately minority communities, “where the application of the law can be misused with racial bias, when interacting with police enforcement.
“I have introduced bill (A11391) called Jeremiah’s Law,” she said. “This bill ensures that someone who is found to have knowingly filed a false report against a minor will face felony charges, that is, a Class E felony,” she said. “We need to take action against the spurring undertones that poison our communities.
“I hope that this will help to deter people from proceeding with extreme and unnecessary actions particularly against minors under 13 years old,” Bichotte added.