Attorney General Beau Biden and a bipartisan group of legislators have unveiled legislation that will strengthen law enforcement’s ability to stop sexual predators from hurting children.
The bill builds on the work done by the Child Predator Task Force over the past seven years to track down and arrest sexual predators. Since 2007, the task force’s work has led to the conviction of more than 180 predators and the rescue of 119 children who were being abused or being groomed for future victimization.
The task force has increasingly focused on conducting undercover, online investigations to finding predators lurking online looking to meet children. The legislation ensures that predators caught in these undercover investigations face appropriate charges and punishment.
“Nothing is more important than protecting our kids,” said Biden, who asked the legislature’s budget-writing committee to fund an additional prosecutor and investigator for the task force. “The more predators we take off of the street, the safer we make our children. This legislation will strengthen our efforts to stop sexual predators before they have a chance to hurt a child.”
Specifically, the bill makes clear that a sexual predator is guilty of sexual solicitation of a child online whether the individual is soliciting an actual child or an undercover investigator whom the predator believes to be a child. The bill also elevates the offense from a Class C to a Class B felony in cases in which the predator actually travels to meet the individual he is soliciting online, whether the subject is a child or an undercover investigator.