Sen. Kane Applauds Final Passage Of “Safe Harbor For Sexually Exploited Children” Bill

May 6, 2010

Senator Rob Kane (R-32) today applauded final legislative passage of an initiative designed to protect sexually exploited children and young teens from possible prosecution for prostitution.

“Unfortunately, there are bad people in the world who misuse their power as adults to sexually abuse and exploit children and teenagers. We are fortunate that Connecticut’s law enforcement officials want to help, not further harm, these young victims. Nevertheless, we will now have a law on the books that explicitly protects sexually exploited children against legal punishment,” said Senator Kane, the primary sponsor of the legislation.

Under existing state law, prostitution is a crime regardless of the offender’s age. The newly adopted legislation makes prostitution a crime only for people age 16 and older. Furthermore, this bill calls for creating a presumption, one that must be rebutted by the prosecution, that 16- and 17-year olds alleged to have engaged in prostitution were coerced or enticed. Existing law does permit anyone accused of prostitution to assert that he or she was coerced by the use or threat of force as an affirmative defense. Also, this legislation calls for increasing the penalty for promoting prostitution of persons younger than 18. Finally, the bill specifies that in any prosecution for patronizing a prostitute or promoting or permitting prostitution, a defendant cannot assert that the person engaging or agreeing to engage in sexual conduct for a fee cannot be prosecuted for prostitution because of his or her age.

The newly passed legislation will be sent to Governor M. Jodi Rell’s desk. It takes effect on October 1, 2010.

“I am grateful to my legislative colleagues and the many child advocates who joined me in working hard to get this bill passed. Connecticut is a state that values its children, and we responsible adults want to have laws that back up our commitment to protecting sexually exploited children from even the possibility of legal harm,” said Senator Kane.