Home General Assembly passes AG’s bills to crack down on child predators

General Assembly passes AG’s bills to crack down on child predators


mark herringWith bipartisan support, yesterday the General Assembly passed bills from Attorney General Mark Herring to help protect Virginia children from online exploitation and to allow law enforcement to effectively investigate crimes involving child pornography, child exploitation, and human trafficking.

The bills, which have the support of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Cyber Security Commission, the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, the Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys, Virginia’s Internet Crimes Against Children centers, and the National Association to Protect Children, will ensure that child predators are not tipped off to ongoing investigations and will help law enforcement quickly remove children from dangerous exploitative situations.

“Crimes involving the abuse or exploitation of children are the most reprehensible ones my office prosecutes,” saidAttorney General Herring. “These bills will help prosecutors and investigators in my office and around the Commonwealth remove children from dangerous situations and put away those who would use the internet to exploit Virginia children or lure them into a human trafficking operation. In Virginia, we will never waver in our commitment to protecting our young people.”

“Gov. McAuliffe feels strongly that we all have a responsibility to protect children from Internet predators,” saidVirginia Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson, co-chair of Governor McAuliffe’s Cyber Security Commission, which reviewed, endorsed, and worked with legislators to help pass the bill. “The broad support for this legislation is a testimony to our collective determination as state leaders, technology experts and law enforcement officials to keep our children safe and punish those who attempt to harm them.”

HB1946(McClellan)/SB919 (Wexton) will allow for a prosecutor to seal a subpoena seeking the identity of someone who has produced, distributed, or downloaded child pornography so the criminal won’t be tipped off and destroy evidence or flee prosecution. The bills also allow prosecutors to find out the identity of someone posting online advertisements for sexual encounters with children or victims of human trafficking. Such requests have been available to prosecutors and investigators since 2007, and by keeping such requests under seal for 30 days, prosecutors and investigators can more effectively go after these predators and criminals.

“This legislation provides a tool for prosecutors to quickly identify and stop child predators who hide behind the anonymity of the Internet when committing heinous crimes against our children,” said Del. Jennifer McClellan.  “I am thankful for the collaboration between Attorney General Herring and my colleagues in the legislature on behalf of children across the Commonwealth.”

In 2014, Attorney General Herring’s office assisted in the investigation of 120 cases involving child pornography. The Attorney General’s Office also handled 81 prosecutions, with 27 defendants receiving sentences totaling 193 years and 6 months of active incarceration, in addition to one life sentence, and the remainder of the cases still pending. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, cases prosecuted across the country for possession, distribution, receipt, and transportation of child pornography increased from 624 cases in 2004 to more than 2,000 cases in 2012.



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