New law will help law enforcement in the fight against child sex trafficking

Rep. McDonald bill strengthening investigations of child sexual abuse signed into law

Thu, 07/15/2021 - 10:00am

    AUGUSTA — A bill by Rep. Genevieve McDonald, D-Stonington, that gives law enforcement additional tools to combat child sex trafficking has been signed into law. 

    LD 1486 changes the Maine Criminal Code to specify that a person who attempts to patronize prostitution of a minor still commits the crime even when the person they attempt to patronize is posing as a minor for the purpose of a law enforcement investigation. It also upgrades the crime of patronizing underage prostitution from a Class D crime to a Class C crime.

    “Is it imperative we keep predators away from minors who are victims of child sex trafficking operations, and this new law provides an additional pathway to do that,” said McDonald. “We do not want to leave loopholes open or tie law enforcement’s hands as they work to protect our youth from predatory behavior and disrupt child trafficking networks anywhere they exist. I’m grateful to my colleagues for their unanimous support and to the governor for signing the bill.”

    During a May public hearing before the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, the bill drew supportive testimony from the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

    In addition to sponsoring LD 1486, McDonald also introduced LD 1612, which allows children under 14 to testify in sexual abuse cases remotely and away from the immediate presence of the defendant. LD 1612 became law on July 1.

    Both measures will take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.

    McDonald, House chair of the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee and a member of the Marine Resources Committee, is serving her second term in the Maine House and represents the Cranberry Isles, Deer Isle, Frenchboro, Isle au Haut, North Haven, Southwest Harbor, Stonington, Swan’s Island, Tremont, Vinalhaven and Marshall Island Township.