Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rep. Matt Ramsey Praises Signing of HB 123, Closing Loophole in Georgia's Child Molestation Statute

Yesterday, Governor Sonny Perdue signed House Bill 123 into law. This legislation was authored by Representative Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) to close a loophole in Georgia’s child molestation statute.

House Bill 123 fixes a problem created by a mid-nineties Georgia Supreme Court ruling in which the Court, in a close decision, interpreted the statutory definition of child molestation to require that a perpetrator be physically present with a victim in order to be prosecuted for child molestation.

“The Court’s ruling created a barrier that limited prosecutors' ability to go after predators that subject children to lewd acts via electronic means such as webcams or live streaming video. It was an unusual result in that it meant an offender that commits a lewd act in the presence of a child can be prosecuted for molestation, whereas another person who induces a child to watch the exact same act on a webcam cannot, despite the fact that the impact on the child is the same. HB 123 corrected this flaw,” said Rep. Ramsey. “Our laws must keep up with technological changes and in this case that means closing a loophole that allows predators to use technology to prey upon our children.”

Rep. Ramsey was joined at the signing ceremony by two of the legislation’s co-sponsors, Representative Mark Williams (R-Jesup) and Representative Kevin Levitas (D-Atlanta). Judge Christopher Edwards, District Attorney for the Griffin Judicial Circuit Scott Ballard and his Chief Assistant District Attorney Randy Coggin were also present at the signing.

“I truly appreciate Judge Edwards for bringing the issue to my attention and to Scott Ballard and Randy Coggin for their efforts throughout the legislative session, including participation in several committee hearings, in support of this bill,” said Rep. Ramsey.

The legislation was carried in the Senate by State Senator Ronnie Chance and passed the House and Senate overwhelmingly with bi-partisan support.
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