Senator Saland’s Legislation To Strengthen Penalties Against Child Sex Offenders Passes Senate

Stephen M. Saland

March 26, 2009

     Senator Steve Saland (R,C Poughkeepsie), today announced that the New York State Senate has passed his legislation imposing stricter penalties on Internet pedophiles (S.1086) and adults who sexually abuse children in their care (S.1085).

     Presently, Internet child pornographers can be prosecuted for the same charge whether they promote one or many obscene images. Under S.1086, penalties would be increased for those who exploit children, as well as those who possess obscene materials, by creating a statutory amendment to provide for graded child pornography offenses.

     "While there is no doubt as to whether or not anyone who commits a crime against a child should be punished, those who engage in this criminal activity on a larger scale should face even stiffer penalties," said Senator Saland. "The current statutory scheme of one-size fits-all has an often unintended consequence of leniency for sexual predators. I am pleased that this legislation will give law enforcement greater flexibility as they work to uncover this unconscionable abuse of children."

     Senator Saland's legislation will dramatically increase the penalties for the possession of child pornography by establishing a Class D felony for individuals who possess 25 or more images of child pornography, or a Class C felony for the possession of 250 or more images. Penalties are increased, likewise for offenders who promote sexual performances by children under the age of 17. The legislation would also be more consistent with other laws pertaining to contraband as well as federal laws in this area.

     Additional legislation sponsored by Senator Saland responds to sentencing involving adults in a position of trust or authority, who have been convicted of multiple counts of a sexual act against a child. Currently, when a perpetrator is convicted of multiple crimes against a child, the courts may sentence the perpetrator concurrently rather than consecutively. Under S.1085, convicted offenders would be sentenced consecutively, resulting in longer sentences and offering further protections to children.
     "Tragically, research shows that approximately 90 percent of children who are sexually abused are victimized by adults who are known to them most often over a long period of time," said Senator Saland. "Children who are abused sustain deep, lifelong emotional and psychological scars that are difficult to recover from, especially when the abuse is repeated or is inflicted by a person in a position of trust or authority."

     "Concurrent sentencing for multiple criminal acts denies the horrific nature and impact these crimes have on children and potentially enables a perpetrator to have access to further abuse a child who has already been traumatized. By ensuring an end to concurrent sentencing and requiring that sentences for multiple abuse convictions be served consecutively, the result will be lengthier, more appropriate sentences, affording greater protection to our children and our communities," Saland added.