Cracking down on sex predators
By Michelle Provencher

Online child predators face harsher punishments thanks to a new bill proposed by Attorney General Beau Biden.

The Senate passed House Bill 256 Tuesday, legislation which will charge suspects with sexual solicitation of a child even if the suspect were talking to an undercover investigator, and not an actual minor.

Under the new law, predators who travel to meet children, or to meet detectives who are believed to be children, will now face a Class B felony instead of Class C.

The bill is sponsored by Representative Debra Heffernan and Senator Harris B. McDowell III, and is being backed by the General Assembly's Kids Caucus.

Biden says, "Nothing is more important than protecting our kids."

A technical amendment in the bill requires it be sent back to the House for approval.

Officials say the state's Child Predator Task Force has been conducting online investigations since 2007, leading to convictions of more than 180 predators. Task force investigations have also reportedly led to the rescue of 119 children who were being abused or being groomed for future abuse.

Copyright © Sep 22, 2014, WDEL/Delmarva Broadcasting Company. All Rights Reserved.
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