Legislature votes to strengthen law on soliciting minors for sex - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Legislature votes to strengthen law on soliciting minors for sex

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By Trang Do - Bio | Email
Posted by Dana Franks - Email

SAND MOUNTAIN, AL (WAFF) - As the world gets more technologically savvy, so do criminals. But a bill passed by the state legislature Friday could protect your child from these high-tech predators.

The bill outlaws many new ways that predators try to solicit minors.

It goes beyond just computers-- predators can be prosecuted for luring text messages from cell phones, PDA's and even video game systems-- and it doesn't stop there.

 We live in a world of ever-changing technology, a world that makes it ever so easy for a predator to gain access to your child.

 "Before when we told children just don't speak to strangers, now strangers can come directly into homes without having to come through windows and doors they've got the electronic devices to do it," said Steve Marshall, Marshall County district attorney.

Marshall is applauding the passage of a bill that makes it a crime to try to entice a child through any electronic means.

It also allows for the prosecution of criminals who believe they're communicating to a child, but are really talking to an officer. "And that no longer becomes a defense for somebody to say, 'It was law enforcement officer not a child," Marshall said.

Chief Deputy Michael Edmondson of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office played a key role in two recent cases where he said two different men attempted to lure teens though sexually-explicit text messages.

"They in turn, turned the cell phone over to me and we were able to talk to them and set up a meeting point," Edmondson said. 

Both men were arrested by deputies when they arrived to meet their victims at times and locations set up by Edmondson posing as the teens. "It's kind of difficult, but you always have to think, 'We're going to get somebody off the street. We're going to get a predator off the street,'" Edmondson said. 

The bill also makes it a separate crime to travel with the intent of meeting a child-- even if the meeting doesn't occur.

The bill has been sent to Governor Bob Riley, who will decide whether to sign the bill into law.  

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