AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today announced his support of the Cybermolesters Enforcement Act, Senate Bill 2280. The pending federal legislation will toughen the penalties for those who travel interstate with the intent to sexually molest minors.
"As the chief law enforcement officer of Texas, I support legislation that will keep our children safe. Those who attempt to take advantage of our most vulnerable will be punished," said Attorney General Cornyn. "There is a clear need to preserve freedom in cyberspace while still protecting our children from criminal cyberpredators. With measures such as these, we can empower the Internet generation to avail themselves of the resources on the electronic frontier, while still protecting them from criminal cybermolesters," said Attorney General Cornyn.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Mitch McConnell, was introduced in the U.S. Senate on March 23. It provides a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for traveling interstate with the intent to sexually molest minors. Current federal law carries a potential prison sentence of 0-15 years. Since there is no mandatory minimum sentence for this offense, some sexual predators are receiving incredibly light sentences.
A five-year mandatory minimum sentence is consistent with other federal laws in this area. For example, production of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and all sexual crimes in federal jurisdiction carry a double sentence when the victim is a child.
According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, approximately one in five regular Internet users between the ages of 10 and 17 received a sexual solicitation or approach over the Internet in the last year. In recent years, the FBI's "cybermolester" caseload has increased more than 500 percent, and in 1999, they opened 1,500 separate cybermolester cases.
Attorney General Cornyn, along with other state attorneys general, today sent a joint letter to the U.S. Senate stating their support of the Cybermolesters Enforcement Act.
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