Pols push stiffer penalties for child predators

If two local lawmakers get their way, New York children willgain an added layer of protection against predators, both in personand on line.

State Senator Marty Golden and Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakisare sponsoring legislation that would increase the penalties foradults convicted of trying to lure children under the age of 17 forcriminal activity or sexual encounters, whether the stage is aprivate car, a secluded area of the neighborhood or the Internet’svarious social media sites.

Currently, individuals charged with such activity – rated a class Amisdemeanor — face a maximum of a year in prison; if thelegislation that Golden and Malliotakis are sponsoring shouldbecome law, that would go up to a maximum of seven years behindbars, because the actions would be reclassified as Class Dfelonies.

In addition, harassment of a child on line would also become aClass D felony; currently, no law covers computer harassment.

The image of Leiby Kletzky, the Boro Park boy who was allegedlymurdered by a man he asked for directions this past summer, is veryvivid for both Malliotakis and Golden.

It sticks in your craw, said Golden, referencing also thedisappearance in 1979 of another young boy, Etan Patz, from nearhis Manhattan home. Patz’s whereabouts were never determined and hewas declared dead in 2001. These are sad cases that might havebeen prevented if there was a law that was strong enough.

In addition, Golden noted, there are occasionally worries aboutchild stalking in the area. Every year, we get it, he said. Lastyear, it was around May, where there were cars out around some ofthe schools trying to lure kids into them. The city and parentsneed tools that hopefully can prevent horrific crimes fromoccurring. This is something no child should have to bear.

The legislation has two goals, said Malliotakis. We are hoping itwill be a deterrent, and also provide the ability for lawenforcement to have a law on the books to be able to put someoneaway for a long enough period of time.

Both legislators promise to work to try to get their bill passed,though, as Malliotakis noted, There are 212 members with variousviews in Albany, meaning that, passing any piece of legislationis difficult.

As to its chances, in the GOP-controlled Senate, similarlegislation has passed in previous sessions, though it didn’t makeit out of committee this year. It has never gotten that far in theDemocratic-controlled Assembly. But, as Malliotakis noted,previously, the legislation had not had an Assembly sponsor, andnow it does.

We are hoping that now that we have a sponsor in each house, wewill be able to work with our colleagues to make it a reality,Malliotakis said.

We don’t want to wait till it’s too late, added Golden. We don’twant another Etan or Leiby. We want to be able to prevent that fromhappening.

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