Senator Steve Saland (R,I,C Poughkeepsie) today announced Senate passage of a bill, S.7986, designed to change the way prostitution offenses are handled, especially when a child prostitute is involved.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Currently, engaging in sex with a child under the age of 15 is ordinarily a class D felony, but patronizing a prostitute who is under the age of 14 is a class E non-violent felony. Throughout New York State's sex crimes statutes, a child is considered to be a person under the age of 17, but the crime of compelling prostitution applies to victims who are less than 16. A defendant who pays for sex with a ten year old child would be charged with patronizing a prostitute in the first degree, a class D felony, but if no money is exchanged or offered, that same defendant would be charged with first-degree rape, a class B violent felony.
There are multiple inconsistencies throughout the Penal Law regarding the ages of victims of crimes of prostitution and certain other sex crimes involving children. This bill would raise the penalty for patronizing a prostitute in the first degree to a class C felony, and adjust certain other patronizing and promoting crimes. While there is, currently, strict liability imposed upon defendants who have sex with children, this legislation would apply the same standard of liability to defendants who have sex with child prostitutes.
“It is incomprehensible that someone would force a child into prostitution, but it happens,” said Senator Saland. “It is inconceivable that someone who has sex with a child prostitute faces a lesser penalty than someone who engages in sex with a minor. This bill corrects that inequity in the law.”
The bill has been sent to the Assembly for consideration.