Senate Passes Legislation Which Makes Viewing Child Pornography a Felony

Andrew J. Lanza

May 17, 2012

 Bill closes loophole after Court of Appeals ruling that it is not a crime

       The New York State Senate today passed legislation (S.7407),
co-sponsored by Senator Andrew Lanza (Staten Island), that would make the
viewing of child pornography a felony crime. The bill amends current state
law to say that a person is guilty of a crime when the person knowingly
accesses child pornography with the intent to view.

       The legislation comes after a state Court of Appeals ruling earlier
this month that said viewing child pornography on the Internet is not a
crime. This legislation closes that loophole.

     “Today we have approved legislation to enable more appropriate
prosecution of individuals who view child pornography here in New York
State,” said Senator Lanza. “Federal regulations are already in place, and
today, we are one step closer to having New York adopt these same policies.
I introduced this bill because I believe that simply the fact that an
individual is viewing child pornography is a crime and New York should
treat it as such.”

       “This legislation sends a strong message that watching child
pornography for any reason is completely unacceptable,” said Senate
Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos. “I commend my colleagues for acting on this
quickly and, in doing so, we’re conforming to federal guidelines. We must
always work to protect children and work to keep them from being exploited
in one of the worst ways.”

       Earlier this month, the Court of Appeals dismissed two of 143
possession and promotion counts against James Kent, a former Marist College
professor who was convicted in 2009. Kent argued that he had reviewed the
images as part of a research project on how child porn is regulated. The
court decided that to be guilty of possession a person must print, download
or save computer files.

       The bill has been sent to the Assembly.