GUEST OP-ED: Need for tougher punishment of sexual predators

Most would agree that a crime committed against a minor is amongthe lowest of the low. And when such a crime involves a sexualattack, it almost shocks the conscience.

Frighteningly, a significant amount of sexual predators arerepeat offenders. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has found thatwithin three years following their release, 5.3 percent of sexoffenders were subsequently arrested for another sex crime. Thismeans that roughly one out of every 19 sexual predators releasedfrom incarceration will prey on at least one more innocent victim.And this only accounts for those who’ve been caught.

We experienced a sobering example of this right here insouthwest Brooklyn, where a teenage boy was abducted from the 53rdStreet train station and forcibly raped.

The suspect was convicted of an eerily similar act in 1999 andhas been linked to another sexual attack less than three years ago,also at the 53rd Street station. With their disproportionate threatof recidivism, sexual predators must be subjected to moreaggressive penalties to reduce the occurrence of tragedies likethis.

In early October, I announced that I would partner with StateSenator Marty Golden to introduce legislation that will increasethe penalties for predators who attempt to lure or entice a childby various means.

The bill would enhance penalties for those who solicit youthsfor criminal activity or sexual encounters by using a vehicle,meeting in a secluded area, or through social media.

The legislation would increase the penalty to a class D felonywhen a person over the age of 18 is found guilty of attempting tolure or entice a child under the age of 17 into a vehicle, buildingor other isolated area for the purposes of committing a criminaloffense. Current law charges those who endanger the welfare of achild in such instances with a class A misdemeanor.

The increased penalty would also apply to those who lure orharass knowingly, someone under the age of 17, by means of computercommunication in order to solicit a sexual encounter or to commit acriminal offense with or against. Current law does not specificallyaddress the harassment of a child via computer.

This legislation would help minimize such unconscionable actsagainst the more vulnerable members of our community, and I intendto work closely with my colleagues to see it become law. We mustensure sexual predators stay behind bars, out of our community, andaway from our children.

Nicole Malliotakis represents the 60th A.D. includingportions of Bay Ridge and Staten Island in the stateassembly.

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