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Posted on: April 8, 2011

County Attorney Praises Tougher Laws Against Child Sexual Predators

PHOENIX, AZ (April 8, 2011) – Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery hailed the recent passage of two pieces of legislation that strengthen existing laws against people who sexually exploit children. HB 2438, sponsored by State Representative Steve Montenegro, extends the felony classification for sexual conduct with a minor to apply to those who were, but are no longer, the minor’s parent, guardian, teacher or clergyman. HB 2411, sponsored by State Representative Eddie Farnsworth, mandates that pimps who commit the crime of child prostitution with minors who are 15, 16 or 17 years of age, and “johns” who engage in child prostitution with minors who they know are 15, 16 or 17 years of age receive a sentence consecutive to any other sentence imposed.

“Thanks to the commitment of Representative Montenegro and Representative Farnsworth, my office now has additional tools to protect the citizens of Maricopa County from criminals who prey on the most vulnerable members of our community,” remarked Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “These two measures will help prevent specific types of child predators from escaping full accountability for their criminal conduct, including teachers and others in a position of authority who seek to “groom” an underage victim for a future sexual encounter, and adults engaged in offering or soliciting older children for prostitution,” he added.

Prior to the passage of HB 2438, punishment of teachers convicted of sexual conduct with a minor was restricted by whether the sexual encounter occurred within the dates of the school calendar. This restriction effectively allowed predators to begin “grooming” their victims during the school year and then wait until the school year is over to steal a child’s innocence and pervert their trust.

The mandatory consecutive sentencing provision for pimps and “johns” in HB 2411 previously existed in child prostitution statutes but was inadvertently left out when the specific statute was revised in 2010.

Both bills are expected to be signed by the Governor.

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