Today, Rep. Juan Vargas' (CA-51) H.R. 1690, "The Child Protection Act of 2013" - "Hazel's Law," received unanimous support from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. "Hazel's Law," a bipartisan bill which currently has 34 cosponsors, would remove the knowledge of age requirement for child sex trafficking cases. The bill, named after Hazel C., is based on a San Diego case which, because of current law, was delayed while the prosecution struggled to prove the trafficker knew his victim was a minor.
"I am thrilled that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors has unanimously supported "Hazel's Law," said Rep. Vargas. "It is imperative that we work together, at all levels of government, to ensure that those who sexually enslave our children are punished to the full extent of the law."
Supervisor Greg Cox stated, "Today we can put our Board on record in support of "Hazel's Law" to remove the "knowledge of age requirement" from child sex trafficking cases to ensure a successful and timely prosecution and lock up these predators immediately. These children have suffered enough. They shouldn't have to suffer more waiting for justice to be delivered."
Presently, the prosecution must gather evidence that the trafficker knew the age of the victim, an exceedingly challenging task, since those forced into sexual slavery are often afraid to confront their traffickers. Removing the knowledge of age requirement would better reflect the strict liability included in other established criminal statutes involving child exploitation.
"The passage of "Hazel's Law" is critical in our fight against sex trafficking," said Supervisor Dianne Jacob. "It would give law enforcement greater leverage in pursuing and prosecuting some of the most heinous criminals around -- child predators."
"We must arm our prosecutors with the tools they need to prosecute those who target our children," stated Vargas. "I am optimistic that "Hazel's Law" will continue to gain momentum and ultimately be signed into law."
Vargas represents California's 51st Congressional District which includes the southern portion of San Diego County, all of Imperial County and California's entire US/Mexico border. Vargas is currently serving his first term in Congress. He represented the 40th California State Senate District from 2010-2012, the 79th California State Assembly District from 2000 -- 2006 and served on the San Diego City Council from 1993 -- 2000.