Senator Saland's Legislation To Protect Children From Sexually Graphic Communication Passes Senate

Stephen M. Saland

June 15, 2006

Senator Steve Saland (R,C Poughkeepsie), today announced the Senate passed legislation that would prohibit the depiction of sexually graphic material to minors, either in written or graphic form. (S.7133B) The bill responds to a recent court case which held that 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.

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.

Similarly, predators do terrible harm to children through communicating sexually explicit images. Tragically, investigators and prosecutors can cite numerous examples of minors who have been exposed to pedophiliac behavior on the computer. When a young child is subjected to graphically written solicitations and descriptions of sexual acts while online, such exposure is often more frightening than if the victim were sent an image.

"An offender who violates the law with words or images should be prosecuted for the crime of disseminating indecent material to minors," Saland said. "Given the significant volume of child exploitation and abuse stemming from computer usage, this bill is necessary to effectively prosecute criminals who seek to circumvent the intent of the law to include those who describe, in words or images, material which is harmful to a minor."

There have been legal cases in which the word "depicts" contained in the existing law has been interpreted in court decisions to be limited to graphic visual images.

"Clearly, it is was not the intent of the penal law to give rise to a loophole for those preying on children when they communicate indecent material in words and not just images," Saland continued. "This legislation will underscore the intent of the original law by assuming that there is no distinction between the sexually explicit words or images conveyed by a pedophile to a child. Most importantly, it will do more to protect our most vulnerable citizens -- our children," Saland concluded.