Senator Steve Saland (R,I,C Poughkeepsie) today announced that his legislation (S.748), 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 been signed by Governor Spitzer. Senator Saland sponsored this important legislation in response to a lower court decision to dismiss the charges filed against an individual who used sexually graphic language over the Internet in an attempt to lure a child into a sexual act.
"This critically important legislation makes it perfectly clear that that there is no distinction between sexual predators who seek to lure children into their web using sexually explicit written communication, and those who use sexually graphic images," said Senator Saland. "We have an obligation to ensure that the law enforcement community has all the tools necessary to apprehend and prosecute these dangerous individuals."
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 will more clearly define that written communication is within the offense of disseminating indecent materials to minors as originally intended in the 1996 law.