Bill targets pedophiles who use calls, texts to lure kids

Pedophiles trolling the Internet seeking sex with minors have become a savvier bunch, using the Web to make initial contact with children and using phone calls and text messaging to engage in sexual communications or to schedule meetings, state lawmakers and prosecutors say.

That sort of behavior isn’t illegal, but Colorado lawmakers are working to change that.

“There’s a gray area in the law,” said Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, a co-sponsor of a bill that would ban people from using text messages and telephones to engage in sexually explicit conversations with children, thereby strengthening legislation that criminalizes Internet luring.

Child predators “have figured out the loopholes in the law,” Gardner said.

“We have to provide more enforcement for our prosecutors.”

Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said he supports the bill, adding it will help prosecutors keep up with the ways predators are most likely to target technology-savvy children.

Pedophiles “are using 21st century technology to get around the loopholes in the law,” Hautzinger said. “It’s something that we hadn’t anticipated.”

A judge’s hands were tied in allowing charges to stick during a recent Jefferson County case in which a suspected predator had contacted a victim over the Internet and moved the conversation offline.

The sexually explicit content of the conversation that occurred over text messages and telephone communication couldn’t be tried in court, Gardner said.

Gardner said he hopes House Bill 1163 will be placed on a fast-track process. It is expected go before a House committee Monday, he said.


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