Senator Saland Announces Bill To Protect Children From Sexually Graphic Communication Passes The Legislature

Stephen M. Saland

March 07, 2007

Senator Steve Saland (R, I,C Poughkeepsie) today announced that his bill (S.748/A.2012) designed to clarify that the law makes no distinction between words and images with respect to the crime of disseminating indecent material to minors, has now passed both houses of the Legislature. This legislation responds to a case in which the lower court dismissed charges filed against an individual who used sexually graphic language via the Internet in an attempt to lure a child into a sexual act. Prosecutors have appealed this lower court decision and will soon present an oral argument before the Court of Appeals.

"It is the Legislature’s firm belief that the law, as it currently stands, adequately addresses the distinction that some have attempted to make between words and images. This bill, however, makes it perfectly clear that there is no distinction between sexual predators who seek to lure children into their web using sexually explicit written communications, or those who send sexually graphic images. Both acts are outrageously despicable and equally victimize children," said Senator Saland.

"Given the increased amount of crimes involving computers and children as a result of burgeoning use of the Internet, this legislation is crucial in order to prosecute those who seek to circumvent the intent of the law," said Senator Saland.

As stated above, 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. Until the Court of Appeals issues its decision in this case, it is critically important that law enforcement not by stymied in their efforts to apprehend and prosecute sexual predators. This legislation, which will now be sent to the Governor for his consideration, clearly defines that written communication is within the offense of disseminating indecent materials to minors as originally intended in the 1996 law.