U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, today joined Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to highlight a new federal law to enhance federal, state, and local efforts to fight child pornography, sexual predators and human trafficking. The bipartisan Child Protection Act of 2012, sponsored by Sen. Cornyn and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., in the Senate and U.S. Reps. Lamar Smith, R-TX, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-FL, in the House, was signed into law today by President Obama at a White House signing ceremony.
"We need to provide law enforcement with every tool they need to crack down on the most vile criminals -- child sex predators and traffickers -- and protect the innocent young people who fall victim to these heinous crimes," said Sen. Cornyn. "I'm pleased to say this was the product of bipartisan work and wide support from both sides of the aisle in Congress, and I'm glad to see the President quickly signed this measure into law to bring greater justice and protection to victims and allow law enforcement to take immediate steps to stop child predators and traffickers in their tracks."
"Protecting Texas children from online predators and child pornographers is my top priority. With predators increasingly utilizing technology to prey upon children, it is critically important for law enforcement to gain new tools in our battle to protect Texas children. Thanks to Senator Cornyn, that battle got a little easier when the President signed the Child Protection Act today," Attorney General Greg Abbott said.
Rep. Smith said: "Internet child pornography may be the fastest growing crime in America, increasing an average of 150% per year. According to recent estimates, there are as many as 100,000 fugitive sex offenders in the U.S," said House Judiciary Chairman Smith. "The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children reports that Texas has the second largest number of registered sex offenders nationwide. We must do more to protect the most innocent among us--our children.
"I introduced the Child Protection Act to combat crimes against our children. The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent and today the President signed it into law. This bipartisan bill increases penalties for child pornography offenses that involve young children and strengthens protections for child witnesses and victims.
"At a time when Washington is known for partisanship, it is reassuring to see bipartisan legislation enacted. When it comes to protecting our children, there are no Republicans and no Democrats, only concerned citizens."
Currently, the maximum prison term for the possession of child pornography depicting minors 18 years of age and younger is 10 years. The Child Protection Act of 2012 makes the maximum prison term 20 years for the possession of child pornography depicting minors 12 years and younger -- thereby creating a new, stiffer penalty for the possession of child pornography depicting the most vulnerable victims of this crime. In addition, the Child Protection Act of 2012 will require federal courts to issue protective orders for child witnesses who are the target of intimidation or harassment, ensuring that child victims of exploitation and human trafficking have their day in court. This new law also makes it easier for the U.S. Marshals Service to apprehend fugitive sex offenders by authorizing them to obtain administrative subpoenas when investigating these cases. Finally, this law reauthorizes funds for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces, which train executive and judicial officials how to deal with cases of child sexual abuse.
Included in The Child Protection Act of 2012 are several important anti-human trafficking provisions authored by Sen. Cornyn and originally included in the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2011, legislation introduced by Sens. Cornyn and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). These measures will:
Increase the statutory maximum penalties for the possession of child pornography depicting a minor under 12 from 10 to 20 years;
Require federal judges to issue a protective order for child witnesses who are harassed or intimidated by attorneys for their abuser or trafficker; and
Authorize the U.S. Marshals service to issue administrative subpoenas to obtain time-sensitive documents in their investigation of fugitive sex offenders.
Senator Cornyn serves on the Finance, Judiciary, Armed Services and Budget Committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee's Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.