Legislation Passed Providing Greater Tools for Law Enforcement Against Sexual Predators

Legislation will keep pace with evolving technology

ALBANY – New tools could soon be on the way to help members of the law enforcement community combat sexual predators.

With pedophiles and other predators increasingly finding new ways to broadcast obscene images of individuals, often taken without the person’s knowledge or consent, across the internet, Senator Catharine Young (R,C,I- 57th District) has authored legislation that passed the Senate today to punish those who are capitalizing on modern technology to distribute obscene images.

“There is an inherent right to privacy and sexual predators who maliciously obtain obscene images and then distribute them online deserve to face the harshest penalties for their actions,” said Senator Young.

“Once an image has been posted online, it can be nearly impossible to remove and often does irreversible harm to the unsuspecting individual. When an obscene image is taken and posted without the person’s consent, the long lasting pain inflicted can be felt mentally and emotionally, and victims often cannot regain a sense of trust and privacy,” Senator Young said.

Senate Bill 2990 establishes a class A misdemeanor for the dissemination of an unlawfully obtained surveillance image to an internet website, without the consent or knowledge of the person.

“By helping law enforcement keep pace with evolving technology and preventing those with perverse motives from using technology for illicit means, we can account for the growing role the internet plays in our society,” said Senator Young.

Yesterday, the Senate passed four additional bills to create greater protections against sex offenders.

Under current law, a felony charge is only applicable if sexual abuse is forced, if the victim is incapable of giving consent, or if the victim is less than 11-years-old. Perpetrators who have sexual contact with victims between ages 11 and 13 are also only eligible for up to one year in prison. Senate Bill 6679 would increase the penalty for sexual abuse in the second degree, from a class A misdemeanor to a class E felony.

Senate Bill 6680 would increase criminal penalties for sexual contact between a minor and a person who is responsible for the health, education, welfare, or supervision of a child, also known as a “person in a position of trust.” The legislation would increase this crime to a violent felony offense.

Senate Bill 5153 requires disclosure and notification to a municipality when a proposed group home or community residence has been selected as housing location for a sex offender. The bill also requires disclosure of the number of residents who are sex offenders.

Finally, Senate Bill 1472a requires the Office of Children and Family Services to deny the license or employment application of an individual if a background check reveals any felony convictions in New York State, or any other jurisdiction, for a sex offense, a crime against a child, or a crime involving violence, or if a conviction for a felony drug-related offense occurred within the past five years.

All five bills have now been sent to the Assembly for action.