When Family Members Exploit Children
It is a fair question to wonder how it is possible that child pornography can even exist. Where are the parents and how could they allow such a thing to happen? The answer is that parents, guardians and caretakers can often be accused as perpetrators themselves. A Pleasant Grove man was just arrested in January of this year for collecting pictures and videos of his underaged foster children one of whom was only 10 years old. Now lawmakers in Utah are attempting to increase penalties for people who are responsible or complicit in the exploitation of their own children.
Expansion of Child Porn Penalties
The sexual exploitation of a minor, often referred to as child porn, already carries quite significant penalties but now those penalties could be expanded. Sexual exploitation of a minor under the law means producing, possessing, distributing, or viewing child pornography. It is also considered sexual exploitation of a minor if the offender is a parent or guardian who consents or permits the minor to be exploited.
In Utah, sexual exploitation of a minor carries a maximum of 15 years in prison. For those that find this punishment to be inadequate, the Utah legislature has introduced a bill that would make parents who exploit their own children face a first degree felony.
HB 141 introduced by Rep. Paul Ray from the 13th District would amend the sexual exploitation of a minor laws to make it so that if certain aggravating factors, including if a family member is the one exploiting the child, then the crime is elevated to a first degree felony with a possible sentence of life in prison.
The proposed law prescribes a minimum sentence of three years with a possible life sentence if the person knowingly produced child pornography, the person is a family member or guardian of the child depicted, and the offender has a prior sexual offense. Family members that could be charged include parents, grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, great aunts, great uncles, brother in laws, sister in laws, stepparents, first cousins, stepsiblings, or siblings. It would also be a first degree felony if the depicted child was under five years old or the material displayed violence, bestiality or sadistic or masochistic activity.