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Child solicitation contact changes

Published (2/13/2009)
By Mike Cook
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As technology changes, so do the ways that sexual predators can contact minors.

A bill held over Feb. 10 by the House Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee for possible omnibus bill inclusion tries to keep pace with the electronic advancements.

Sponsored by Rep. Karla Bigham (DFL-Cottage Grove), HF129 closes a loophole in a 2007 law prohibiting solicitation of minors online. It expands the crime of computer solicitation of children to include “an electronic communications system, or a telecommunications, wire or radio communications system, or other electronic device capable of electronic data storage or transmission.”

“This bill adds cell phones as a result of some instances that have occurred because of text messaging and picture messaging,” Bigham said. She said the proposed statutory language is intended to be over-inclusive.

Under the bill, an adult using a telephone to solicit a child for sexual contact, communicates in a “sexually explicit” manner or distributes “sexually explicit” material to a child would be guilty of a felony.

The bill also changes a heading in statute to “Electronic solicitation of children” to better reflect the expanded nature of the offense. It is currently titled “Internet or computer solicitation of children.”

A companion bill, SF415, sponsored by Sen. Mee Moua (DFL-St. Paul), was scheduled to be heard Feb. 12 by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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