HARRISBURG – The Senate unanimously approved a bill today that would strengthen penalties for child pornography and create a new task force to help prevent children from being victimized by this heinous crime, according to Senate Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20), who supported the bill.
“This form of unforgivable abuse is not something that is accidental or unintentional,” Baker said. “It comes about thorough intimidation, force, and most chilling of all, natural trust in family members, neighbors, or authority figures that is cruelly violated.”
Senate Bill 1075 would increase penalties in all cases of child pornography in which the child is under the age of 10 or prepubescent. In these cases, the bill would increase the penalty for creating child pornography from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony, with a maximum penalty of more than 10 years. A first offense for disseminating this sort of child pornography would also be increased from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony.
Current law only provides an increase in grading of the offense when the crime includes a depiction of indecent contact with a child. The bill would ensure that a broader range of child pornography offenders could face increased fines and prison sentences.
The legislation would also provide a sentence enhancement for offenses in which the child depicted is known to the offender.
In addition, the bill would create a special Task Force on Child Pornography to review all laws pertaining to child pornography and make recommendations to improve the investigation and prosecution of offenders. The task force will also be responsible for developing guidance and tools for sexual abuse prevention and suggesting any necessary changes to state law to help identify cases and hold offenders accountable for their crimes.
“No child consents to this kind of horrific and life-scarring exploitation,” Baker added. “Even as we strengthen penalties, it is hard to escape the fact that more needs to be done to treat and help heal to the extent possible those who have the misfortune to fall victim to evil and sick individuals.”
The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
CONTACT: Jen Wilson