State Representative Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) today applauded the House’s passage of legislation he sponsored that requires a mandatory prison sentence for importuning, or solicitation, of a minor.

House Bill 405 establishes a mandatory prison sentence for soliciting a child under 13 years old to engage in sexual activity. The bill also stipulates that if an offender is more than 10 years older than a victim who is 13 to 16-years-old, the offender will receive a mandatory prison sentence. This includes importuning through the use of a telecommunications devices such as a computer or cell phone.

“Unfortunately it is not always an officer on the other side of the computer screen, it is a child,” said Schaffer. “House Bill 405 will fix a loophole in Ohio law that is allowing dangerous sexual predators to get away with their crimes against children with a slap on the wrist and no disincentive to commit these crimes again.”

“As few as 20% of those charged with soliciting sex from children are seeing prison time,” said Schaffer. “It is time that we show these dangerous predators a serious deterrent, otherwise they will keep preying on our most vulnerable population—our children.”

“I cannot stress enough how little regard these monsters have for their victims,” said Chief Mike Tussey of the Baltimore, Ohio police department. “The only remorse comes from being caught.”

When testifying on an earlier version of the legislation, Gary Wolske, Vice President of the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, said “These criminals are arranging to have sex with children and should be treated harshly. They are not going through the process of grooming and setting up meetings with victims in order to say hello and walk away.”

A story aired by 10TV News in Columbus in 2014 studied cases of importuning in Franklin County between 2010 and September of 2014. It found that only 19 of 93 offenders charged with importuning served a prison sentence. Seventy of those only received probation.

Schaffer joint sponsored the legislation with Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid). Schaffer also sponsored earlier importuning legislation in 2008. Today’s bill passed with unanimous bi-partisan support and will now go to the Senate for further consideration.

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