[r65] Rep. Koch: Protecting children and seniors (5/13/2013)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Start Date: 5/13/2013 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 5/13/2013 End Time: 11:59 PM

STATEHOUSE – Hoosier children and seniors will be safer under bills passed by State Representative Eric Koch (R-Bedford) and signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence.

“Use of the Internet by child predators is growing,” said Rep. Koch. “It was time to update our laws to close legal loopholes and strengthen the capabilities of the police and prosecutors.”

Rep. Koch, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, co-sponsored SEA 223 and SEA 347, legislation addressing child solicitation and child pornography. SEA 223 expands the definition of criminal sexual conduct to include filming or disseminating material containing underage female breasts with the intent to encourage arousal. This will allow for increased discretion by law enforcement and prosecution and provide for enhanced protection of children who are being coerced into being inappropriately photographed.

SEA 347 makes the following changes to Indiana’s criminal code to address use of the Internet by child predators:

  • Makes it illegal for sex offenders on probation to communicate with a minor less than 16 years of age using a social networking site. This is more expansive and specific than current law. SEA 347 specifically refers to sites where users must have a username and password.
  • Makes “child solicitation” a Class B felony if someone solicits a child online and then travels to meet him or her. Currently, doing so is a Class C felony.
  • Elevates “child solicitation” to a Class B felony if someone has a prior conviction for the same.
  • Defines “attempted child molestation” as occurring if someone communicates with a child or someone they believe to be a child and travels to another location to meet that person. There is currently a gap in the law that prevents charging someone who takes all of the steps to molest a child but is stopped from doing so with “attempted child molesting.” This provision will remedy that problem.
  • Specifies that a person at least 18 years old can be charged with inappropriate communication with a child. Under current law, the offense can only be committed by a person at least 21 years old.

SEA 382 creates the Senior Consumer Protection Act, which helps protect senior citizens from illegal misuse of assets through fraud, extortion and intimidation. Those who financially exploit seniors would have their assets frozen, be subject to an injunction and be held responsible for the cost of investigation and prosecution. The bill would also increase civil penalty costs from $50 to up to $5,000 per violation. Violations of trust by those including spouses, children and attorneys, would also result in stiffer penalties.

“This legislation gets tough on those who would sexually exploit children or financially exploit the elderly,” said Rep. Koch. “Now, there will be fewer legal loopholes to avoid justice for crimes against our most vulnerable citizens.”