AL.com: Martha Roby bill combating child sex tourism passes House
A bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, that closes loopholes in the law protecting children from sexual abusers passed the House on Monday - legislation that the congresswoman said is needed to combat child sex tourism.
Roby's bill, the Global Child Protection Act, broadens the legal definition of "illicit sexual contact" to include instances where a child touches an abuser. Currently, the law only defines the term as an abuser touching a child. That means child sex tourists can travel overseas and not be prosecuted if the child performs sex acts on them.
"This allows child predators engaged in global sex tourism to evade punishment for acts that are clearly abusive," Roby said in a floor speech hours before the vote, referring to the current law. "These technical flaws in the law are making it harder for authorities to put serial child abusers away where they belong."
The legislation also treats contact offenses to children under 12 the same as contact with victims between 12 and 18, and would establish mandatory life sentences for certain repeat offenders.
"We need to make sure that [law enforcement has] every tool at their disposal to do their job," the congresswoman said. "It is our duty to protect those who cannot protect themselves."