Congresswoman Wilson Attends Opening Statements in the Trial of the Woman Accused in the Murder and Disappearance of Rilya Wilson
MIAMI, FL – Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), will attend opening statements in the trial of Geralyn Graham, at 9:30am, on Monday, November 26, 2012. The trial is being held at the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building, located at 1351 N.W. 12th street, Miami, Florida. Graham is charged with first degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated child abuse in connection with the disappearance of Rilya Wilson, in 2001. Rilya, a four year old foster child, was in the care of Graham’s live-in partner, when she went missing. It was months before the Florida Department of Children and Families discovered that Rilya had disappeared. Congresswoman Wilson, a staunch supporter of Rilya’s, held out hope for many years that the child would be found alive. Congresswoman Wilson’s advocacy on behalf of Rilya, when she was a state senator, helped led to sweeping changes within the Florida Department of Children and Families and passage of The Rilya Wilson Act. To this date, Rilya has not been found.
“Let us not forget that Rilya and children like her are all of our children. When the state removes a child from the biological parents and places them in foster care, the state and all of its residents become the guardian of those children. So Rilya technically belongs to all of us. I am thankful for all of the wonderful people who take in foster children as their own, but I worry about children like Rilya who are not as fortunate. We must fight for Rilya Wilson while the nation’s eyes are on us,” says Congresswoman Wilson.
The Rilya Wilson Act, which passed on July 16, 2003, makes it mandatory for children in DCF custody to attend school. An absence would put procedures in motion to locate the child immediately. Congresswoman Wilson continues her fight for Rilya in Congress. She has sponsored a federal adaptation of The Rilya Wilson Act that says states must have procedures in place to report missing children to law enforcement, for entry into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database and to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. This bipartisan bill has more than 100 co-sponsors and is supported by the South Florida Congressional Delegation.