Hillsdale Memorial Debate - My9 New Jersey

Hillsdale Memorial Debate

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Hillsdale, New Jersey (My9NJ) -

Molested and murdered are two words that have divided the Hillsdale community.

Forty years ago, Joan D’Alessandro was a seven year old girl scout who was out selling cookies in her neighborhood. After knocking on a neighbor’s door, only a few doors down from her own home, Joan was raped and murdered.

This case has become infamous, not only in New Jersey, but nationally. There was even legislation passed in 1997 in New Jersey and in 1998 by President Clinton, called Joan’s Law. Joan’s Law states that any person convicted of murdering a child under the age of 14 must be sentenced to life imprisonment without eligibility for parole if the murder was committed in the course of the commission of a sex crime.

Rosemarie D’Alessandro, Joan’s mother, has pictures of Joan all over her home and has been in the process of erecting a memorial for her daughter. This memorial has been the thing causing controversy in Hillsdale.

D’Alessandro originally drafted a note that was going to be put on the sculpture that would have referred to her daughter’s life as “murdered and molested”. Some council members and members of the community are having trouble with the wording.

D’Alessandro believes this sculpture needs to be put up regardless of the words chosen. “It’s a sculpture that represents child safety. Save them from what happened to Joan. You need to say what happened,” she said.

D’Alessandro has been working with a social worker, a psychiatrist, and a county executive to find new wording that would be more acceptable. They came up with “lured” and “life taken” to replace molested and murdered.

Some believe that regardless of the wording, this memorial is important to remind people of what has and can happen. While others hope that this memorial will help bring an end to these horrible crimes.

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