Mo. House passes child sex abuse measure

Thursday, March 7, 2013 | 4:44 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House of Representatives has approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow evidence of past criminal behavior in child sex abuse prosecutions.

The evidence could be used to corroborate a victim's testimony or to demonstrate someone has an inclination to commit the alleged crime. That evidence would be limited to prosecutions of sexual crimes that involve victims younger than 16.

Supporters say federal courts and many states allow that type of evidence. The Missouri Supreme Court previously ruled it violates the state constitution.

Backers say the change could make it easier to prosecute sex crimes against children. Opponents raised concerns that the measure could infringe on defendants' fair trial rights.

House members approved the measure 130-23, sending it to the Senate. The constitutional amendment would appear on the ballot.

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