SALT LAKE CITY — A House committee Monday advanced a bill to increase the penalty for sexual exploitation of a minor in certain situations.
Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, the sponsor of HB476, presented the measure to the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee alongside Shelley Coudreaut, assistant attorney general with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
"This bill is targeted toward the worst of the worst of child exploitation offenders," Coudreaut said.
The bill enhances the offense of sexual exploitation of a minor to a first-degree felony if the offender is in a special relationship of trust with the victim, such as a family member or a schoolteacher.
Charges also would be enhanced if the guardian knowingly allows someone else to sexually exploit the minor in their care, if the minor was younger than 13, or if the minor was "visually depicted" in child pornography "engaging in violence, bestiality, or sadistic or masochistic activity."
"We've unfortunately seen a trend in some of the more violent types of images. Those are images that are now in demand. Those are the images that produce the highest request (on the internet)," Coudreaut told the committee.
The committee voted 8-0 to send HB476 to the full House for further debate.