© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

New York legislators aim to make state parks safer following high-profile abduction

Moreau Lake State Park
Moreau Lake State Park
Moreau Lake State Park Wednesday, April 17th 9:00 a.m. Baker Trail to Overlook Hike

Following Wednesday’s sentencing of a Saratoga County man who pleaded guilty to kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl, New York lawmakers are hopeful legislation will increase safety in state parks.

In Saratoga County Court, Craig Ross Jr. was sentenced to 47 years to life for the abduction and sexual assault of a young Corinth resident. Ross will also be placed on the sex offender registry.

With overdue budget talks continuing in Albany, legislators are hopeful that the case, which drew national attention, will lead to increased security in state parks.

Speaking with WAMC Thursday, Republican State Senator Jim Tedisco of the 44th district says he had introduced the bill in the days following the girl’s disappearance last September.

“I realized that if they had cameras, they could’ve got the license plate of that individual driving in or driving out you might have even seen the child in the car potentially. Could’ve found out through the records, checked his name, checked his background, found out where he lived or loved ones, family members lived. You could’ve cut short that two-day period,” said Tedisco.

Ross admitted to kidnapping the child as she rode her bike in Moreau Lake State Park. His fingerprint was found on a ransom note left in the family’s mailbox and was linked to a DWI in the 1990s.

Tedisco says the case was a wakeup call.

“All these perpetrators and criminals, their crime doesn’t take place in one park, Moreau Park, in the 44th Senatorial district. So, I certainly contacted the parks department, they said they’d work on it, they put cameras coming in and out of that Moreau park, but I explained to them there are 200 or more state parks and recreational facilities across the state of New York. Every child, every family, every family, every adult deserves to be protected,” said Tedisco.

The bill will require state-run parks and campgrounds to be equipped with security cameras that can identify the license plate of any car going in or out of the facilities as well as record the image of any person entering or exiting the grounds.

Ross had allegedly lured the girl into his truck after driving around various camping sites. Authorities say Ross held her in a camper in the Town of Milton.

Presiding Judge James Murphy spoke before delivering Ross’ sentence.

“Being 9 years old, the victim wanted to ride her bike around loop A in the park one more time by herself. What parent would say no to a kid who was excited about doing something seemingly so simple on her own, nurturing her independence? Hers was a simple and normal request by a kid excited to be a ‘big girl’ and ride her bike around the loop by herself. Unbeknownst to anyone the defendant Craig Ross, now an admitted predator, was lurking in the park waiting for an opportunity, and there she was,” said Murphy.

The measure is sponsored in the Assembly by 111th District Democrat Angelo Santabarbara.

“Tragic incidents like the one we saw at Moreau Lake State Park show exactly why it’s so important. This isn’t about politics, it’s about protecting everyone who visits our parks and making a commitment and making sure our parks are safe for everyone,” said Santabarbara.

Tedisco says he’s grateful this is one instance of bipartisan cooperation.

“I was happy that the governor initially put it in the budget. Yesterday we were contacted by the liaison for the governor who talked to us about it and said it would be placed and continue to be placed in the final budget, they believed, and it looks like it’s in there,” said Tedisco.

Tedisco adds he would like to see parks initiate expanded patrols.

Related Content