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Secret recordings bill goes to governor

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In a move stemming from a Florida Supreme Court ruling, state lawmakers gave final approval Friday to a bill (HB 7001) that would allow children to secretly record conversations related to sexual abuse or other violent acts.

House members voted 116-0 to approve the bill, which also passed the Senate unanimously this week. It now will go to Gov. Rick Scott.

The bill was spurred by a Supreme Court decision last year that ordered a new trial for a man sentenced to life in prison for sexually abusing his stepdaughter.

The court said recordings made by Richard R. McDade's stepdaughter should not have been allowed into his Lee County trial. State law generally bars recording of conversations unless all parties agree, and it also prevents such recordings from being used as evidence in court.

The bill would create an exemption for children under 18 who have reason to believe that secretly recording a conversation "will capture a statement by another party to the communication that the other party intends to commit, is committing, or has committed an unlawful sexual act or an unlawful act of physical force or violence against the child." 

Attorney General Pam Bondi released a statement Friday thanking the Legislature for voting unanimously in favor of the bill.

"This legislation will allow child victims of sexual assault to gather key evidence to bring their attackers to justice," Bondi said. "I want to thank sponsors Rep. Carlos Trujillo and Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto for sponsoring this important piece of legislation and each member of the Florida House and Senate for voting to help protect these young victims and punish the monsters that prey on them."