Mothers petition for child luring law after incident in Mount Pleasant park
MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - Three Mount Pleasant mothers are leading a fight for a state child luring law after an incident involving two of their sons at the Pitt Street Bridge shed new light on the issue.
Under South Carolina law, kidnapping is a crime and applies to when a minor is physically put into a car or taken to another place. But luring, or soliciting children is not illegal.
Brittany Williams says luring is dangerous and wants people to be reprimanded. On Saturday, her son left their house to go fishing at the Pitt Street Bridge, like he has many times before.
“It was a typical Saturday… About 30 minutes later, he gave me a call and said that a gentleman approached him and asked if he needed bait and he said ‘no, I’m fine.’ And then he went somewhere else,” Williams says. “Then about five minutes later, he says ‘he came up again, said fish aren’t biting here, we can go to Fort Moultrie.’ And he said, ‘No.’ Well, at that time, he called me and said he had this nervous feeling in his stomach.”
While Williams’ son declined the man and kept moving, another mother, Natalie Massey, says her son was approached by a man who invited him to go fishing elsewhere.
“It was lunchtime, my son sent me a text saying that he met a guy who wanted to go fish with them and leave Pitt Street Bridge. I’m thinking at the time that this must be another young child that he has school with, etc. That’s the only thing in my mind that makes sense. And I quickly found out that it is a 50-year-old man and that starts raising all sorts of concerns to me that an older gentleman is asking him to leave with them,” Massey says.
The two mothers worry the situation could have been worse. Saturday’s incident is adding new fuel to the fire that Child Luring Law advocate Katie Shields has been stoking since 2017. In 2018, then state Rep. Nancy Mace and current Rep. Lee Hewitt introduced a child luring bill. It is currently still sitting in review by a committee.
“Right now, as the law stands, a perpetrator has not broken the law until the child is in the vehicle or structure and the door is shut. And at that point, statistically speaking, it’s far too late,” Shields says. “This is the law we need so that law enforcement can do their job, and that parents have reassurances. You know, if someone is luring a child, they need to be documented and processed accordingly.”
Shields says she knew the two mothers individually before the incident, and now through the scare, they are connected and dedicated to the bill’s cause. She has reignited a petition calling on legislators to take action on the bill next session.
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