Senator Steve Saland (R, I,C Poughkeepsie) and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D, Scarsdale) today announced a bill designed to close what has been described as a loophole in existing law and protect children from sexually explicit communications. The bill, (S.748/A2012) responds to a recent court decision in which the use of sexually explicit language by a child predator, as distinguished from sexually graphic images, did not constitute the crime of disseminating indecent material to minors.
Senator Saland and Assemblywoman Paulin were joined by Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore and the District Attorneys Association of New York President Michael Bongiorno, who both strongly advocate for the bill.
"An offender who violates the law with either words or images should be prosecuted for the crime of disseminating indecent material to minors," said Senator Saland. "Given the significant volume of child exploitation and abuse stemming from computer usage, this legislation is crucial in order to eliminate this dangerous loophole and prosecute those who seek to circumvent the intent of the law. Most importantly, this legislation will do more to protect our most vulnerable citizens -- our children."
"Predators do terrible harm to children through communicating sexually explicit images," said Assemblywoman Paulin. "Tragically, investigators and prosecutors can cite numerous examples of minors who have been exposed to pedophiliac behavior on the Internet. When a young child is subjected to graphically written solicitations and descriptions of sexual acts while on-line, such exposure is often more frightening than if the victim were sent an image. I look forward to working together with Senator Saland to see this bill signed into law."
"There must not be any loopholes in the law when it comes to protecting children from sexual offenders," said Senator Vincent Leibell. "This critical legislation aims to end the vile method which predators use to communicate with children and continues our efforts of ensuring that our laws meet the ever changing world of technology."
"Law enforcement must be constantly aware of and be able to adapt to our rapidly changing world," said Westchester County District Attorney DiFiore. "By amending the current Disseminating Indecent Material to Minors law to make it clear that words as well as images are obscene, we can more effectively prosecute the criminals who are using the Internet to exploit and abuse young children."
"This amendment will protect children from the numerous sexual predators who use the Internet to exploit and abuse children, said District Attorneys Association of New York State President Bongiorno. "Closing this loophole in the law has been the top priority of the District Attorneys Association and I, and other District Attorneys have worked with the legislature to promote this amendment so that law enforcement is in the best possible position to protect children."
The increased use of the Internet has led to a dramatic increase in use of computers in crimes against children. Many child predators use computers in some cases to lure children into sexual acts. Oftentimes, children start out in what they think are innocent conversations, only to gradually be harassed or seduced by predators though explicit language that leads to sexual acts or the offender's own sexual excitement.
The need for this legislation stems from a recent court decision dismissing charges against a defendant who went on-line and typed graphic, sexual propositions to a New York City detective, posing as an underage boy. Under a law adopted in 1996, it is illegal to have communications with a minor that "depict sexual conduct." The defendant claimed that words were not depictions, and that a loophole exists in current law. Legislation intended to ensure that no such loophole exists, passed the Senate last year.