Governor signs Toepel's Child Porn Penalty Bill into law

Rep. Marcy Toepel was on hand on Wednesday, Dec. 18, for the signing of her legislation, House Bill 321, which will enhance the penalties for crimes involving child pornography. Pictured with her are (from left): Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler (standing); Rep. Ron Marsico, House Judiciary chairman (seated); Gov. Tom Corbett; and Public Welfare Secretary Bev Mackereth. The legislation is part of a comprehensive package of bills designed to further protect children.

Standing up for victims who feel like they have no voice of their own is the motivation for House Bill 321, authored by Rep. Marcy Toepel (R-Montgomery). Today, Gov. Tom Corbett signed the bill into law. The legislation calls for enhanced sentencing for those convicted on child pornography charges. Toepel joined Corbett and sponsors of other child protection bills at the Pennsylvania Child Resource Center for the bill signings.

“The state Task Force on Child Protection found in a 2012 report that those who committed the offense of child pornography received a wide variety of sentences, including probation, despite the egregious nature of the offense,” Toepel said. “It is never appropriate to think that the people committing these kinds of heinous acts on a child can walk away with only probation. I appreciate the support of my colleagues in the unanimous passage of this legislation and the governor signing it into law, ensuring pedophiles are held accountable for their actions.”

Following task force recommendations, sentencing guidelines will be enhanced across the spectrum of child pornography charges and will be based upon the age of the child victimized, the number of images possessed, and the nature and character of the abuse. The legislation also enhances the penalty if the image in question involves any indecent contact with the child.

These crimes continue to plague our communities. According to the attorney general’s office, approximately 2,800 individuals download or transmit child pornography every month in Pennsylvania. Also, the attorney general’s Child Predator Section (CPS) has arrested 107 individuals this year, up from just 19 arrests in 2012.

The law will go into effect January 1, 2014.

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