Madison — A bill creating tougher penalties against pedophiles who use the Internet to target children and giving greater protection for child pornography victims, authored by State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) and Representative Tony Staskunas (D-West Allis) was signed into law by Governor Walker today. The Internet Crimes Against Children Act, introduced in collaboration with Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen, was one of three pieces of legislation authored by Sen. Lassa that were signed today.
“The Internet Crimes Against Children Act creates important new protections for children who are preyed upon by online predators and child pornographers,” Sen. Lassa said.
The new law allows prosecutors to seek maximum penalties in cases that arise from undercover investigations where the perpetrator is using the Internet to try to engage in sexual activity with a child. The bill also amends the criminal discovery statute to prevent inadvertent or intentional reproduction and further dissemination of child pornography images and video. The bill is modeled after a federal rule adopted in 2006. While increasing the security of these images, the bill maintains a defendant’s opportunity to fully present a defense to criminal charges.
“Regardless of whether a pedophile is caught by an undercover officer in a sting operation or actually makes online contact with a victim, their intent is the same – to have sexual contact with a child. Judges will now be able to hand down the same punishment either way, and prevent these criminals from successfully preying on kids in the future,” Sen. Lassa said.
“The law also protects child pornography victims by preventing child pornography held as evidence from being inadvertently or intentionally distributed. Child pornography will be treated the same way as drugs and other contraband. While defendants will still have access to it, it will remain in police custody,” she said.
Governor Walker also signed a bill that eliminates the statute of limitations for first degree sexual assault of a child and for attempts to commit first-degree intentional homicide, second-degree intentional homicide, and first-degree sexual assault of an adult. A bill that would allow farmers to receive compensation for damage to crops or livestock caused by cougars was also signed today; Sen. Lassa was a Senate author of both proposals. The three bills bring to twelve the number of bills authored by Sen. Lassa that have been signed into law this session.
“I have always worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enact good public policy for my constituents, and I did so again this session,” Lassa said.