2007-03-16 / Community

Legislation Sets Internet Prohibitions, Protects Kids

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer has announced that legislation to strengthen the prohibition against using the Internet to solicit minors for sexual activity (A.2012) passed in the Assembly on Monday, March 12.

"We must be constantly vigilant against all manner of sexual solicitation and attack on our children," Assemblywoman Pheffer said. "Predators attempting to lure children for the purpose of sexual abuse are a real danger and we must do our utmost to put sexual predators behind bars when they use the Internet to prey on minors."

Current law bans communications that depict nudity used to solicit underage children, but a case pending in the state's highest court raises the question of whether the use of language is prohibited under the law. Legislation, which Assemblywoman Pheffer backs, will now ban sexually graphic words transmitted over the Internet to minors, as well. "Predators will stop at nothing to lure children into sexually abhorrent acts," Assemblywoman Pheffer said. "An offender soliciting sex can do as much damage to a child through sexually explicit words as with images. The offenders should be prosecuted severely in either case."

The bill, which builds on laws the Assembly helped enact last year to crack down on sexual predators, will make soliciting minors with sexually explicit text on the Internet a Class D felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison.

As part of its Child Safety and Sexual Predator Punishment and Confinement Strategy, a new law drafted by the Assembly created the crime of predatory sexual assault - elevating penalties for former Class B violent felony sex crimes, such as rape, to Class A crimes with a maximum of life in prison for certain heinous acts (Ch. 107 of 2006). The Assembly also helped eliminate the statute of limitations on Class B felony sex crimes, meaning criminal charges for these crimes can be brought years, even decades later (Ch. 3 of 2006). "We urge the Governor to sign this legislation into law as quickly as possible," Assemblywoman Pheffer said. "By putting this law on the books soon, we can further protect our children against luring on the Internet."

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