OLYMPIA – Governor Chris Gregoire today signed into law Attorney General Rob McKenna’s legislation to protect children from sexual exploitation.
Receiving unanimous support from the state House and Senate, HB 2424 makes it a felony to intentionally view child pornography on the Internet. Previously, prosecution could be avoided by viewing illegal material online, without printing or downloading.
“Today we send a strong message to the users and producers of child pornography – that the law will adapt to catch you,” McKenna said. “I’m grateful to our legislators for overwhelmingly approving this measure and to the governor for signing it into law.”
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Al O’Brien, D-Seattle, and co-sponsored by Rep. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, and others, also closes a legal loophole created by a State Supreme Court decision. The decision effectively allowed a volume discount for those convicted of possessing child pornography. Under the new law, multiple counts may be filed against a person caught with several illegal images or videos of children being sexually exploited.
With the widespread adoption of digital cameras, camera phones and file sharing sites, the production and distribution of child pornography has become easier.
A study commissioned by the U.S. Congress and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children shows that most of those arrested for possessing child pornography had images of children who had not yet reached puberty. In fact, 58 percent of those images were of children under 5, including infants.
Kristin Alexander, AGO Media Relations Manager, (206) 464-6432
Janelle Guthrie, AGO Communications Director, (360) 586-0725