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Lawmakers advance bill to ban possession or sale of child sex dolls

SHARE Lawmakers advance bill to ban possession or sale of child sex dolls

A legislative committee unanimously passed a bill Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, that would make owning or distributing child sex dolls a crime. Police say these dolls have turned up in child pornography cases.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

A legislative committee on Wednesday gave unanimous approval to a bill that would prohibit the possession, purchase, or distribution of sex dolls made to look like minors or children.

HB108 sponsor Rep. Matthew Gwynn, R-Farr West, who also serves as the Roy police chief, said child sex dolls have been found in several recent investigations into child pornography or exploitation, and a representative from the Utah Attorney General's Office said there is a "high correlation" between possession of the dolls and investigations into child pornography and abuse.

"There cases so far have been few, but we do have them here in Utah and we've seen them here on ... more than one occasion," said Nate Mutter, co-chairman of the Utah Law Enforcement Legislative Committee.

In some cases, Mutter said, suspects are technically savvy enough to hide their tracks online, and digital forensics teams aren't able to find evidence of child pornography or abuse during an initial search.

"What we do know about the child sex dolls, though, is that there's a high correlation between them being found in homes with child pornographic material or child sex abuse material," Mutter said. "So, in those cases where we may not have something available to us, this would be an additional tool to essentially take someone into custody and bring them into jail."

HB108 defines a child sex doll as "an anatomically correct doll, mannequin, or robot, with the features of, or with features that resemble those of a minor," that "is intended for use in sexual acts."

The bill would make possession of a child sex doll a class A misdemeanor, with a mandatory fine of at least $2,500, and make distribution of a child sex doll a third degree felony with a mandatory fine of at least $10,000.

Mutter said the dolls can be customizable, and he has seen dolls of various ages in cases, including toddler and infant dolls.

"These are highly disturbing and, you know, we'd look at this as a child protection bill, and we need your support," he told the committee.

Unified police detective Tiffany Parker also spoke in favor of the bill.

"As someone who specializes in sexually motivated crimes against children, I'm here to say that we absolutely see these dolls in our communities here in Salt Lake County in Utah," she said. "This bill is absolutely relevant. It does happen, it happens now, and this is something that we fully support."

"(I) just appreciate the sponsor for bringing this forward, and for those who testified for the need of this," said Rep. Val Peterson, R-Orem. "It's sad that we need this type of legislation, but clearly it's needed in code."

HB108 was recommended unanimously by the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee. It now goes to the full House for a vote.