Senator Saland's Legislation To Strengthen Penalties Against Internet Pedophiles Passes Senate

Stephen M. Saland

June 22, 2006

Senator Steve Saland today announced that legislation he sponsored to better protect children has passed the Senate. The bill would increase penalties for those who possess or promote multiple sexual performances or multiple obscene sexual performances by a child (S.7352A).

Presently, Internet child pornographers can be prosecuted for the same charge whether they promote one or many obscene images. This bill would strengthen penalties 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.

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.

A recent study released by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported that 1 in 4 children were subjected to pictures of sexual activity on the Internet in 2005. Child pornography is especially threatening, not only because it victimizes the children used in its production, but also creates a ripple effect on the further victimization of more children. Unfortunately, child abuse experts have documented the tendency of pedophiles to lower their victims' inhibitions by exposing them to images of other children engaging activity.

"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."