Bill To Protect Children From Internet Predators Is Approved
The General Assembly gave final approval Tuesday to legislation, sought by Attorney General Roy Cooper, which will help undercover officers go after online sexual predators. By a vote of 47-0, the Senate agreed to changes made by the House to the bill that makes it a felony for people to solicit sex from a person they believe to be a minor, even if that person is a police officer posing as a child. The existing law allows a person to be charged only with a misdemeanor during such a sting. In addition, the legislation requires a convicted online predator to provide DNA samples for the state's crime database and to register as a sex offender. Further, it gives the State Bureau of Investigation the formal jurisdiction to investigate sex-relate crimes involving children and computers. North Carolina cases of child sexual exploitation rose from 11 in 2001 to 533 in 2004, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Sen. Scott Thomas (D-Craven) sponsored the Child Exploitation Prevention Act, SB 472. Representative Laura Wiley (R-Guilford) ran similar legislation in the House. The bill now heads to Governor Mike Easley to be signed into law.