Bill introduced to make "child luring" a crime

(source: South Carolina Government)
(source: South Carolina Government)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - After authorities said there would be no charges filed after officers investigated an incident at a Mount Pleasant neighborhood where a woman reported a man tried to lure her children into a van, the woman has been working with lawmakers to make child luring a crime.

It's been a little more than a month since the "luring incident."

Mount Pleasant resident, Jenni Hester, posted on Facebook saying, "While my sons' identification of the vehicle and license plate allowed police to track him down immediately, nothing could be done under current SC law. SC's law for child luring has a clause that police officers are unable to prove. The clause is 'with intent to perform sexual activity.'"

Because of that is why Hester has been working with local representatives to change that wording.

"It really was shocking because there is this huge gaping hole in our system to protect our children," Hester said."So I was floored that there was nothing that could be done. This isn't an issue of our policemen not doing their job – it's an issue of them not having a law to prosecute with. Our aim is to give our police officers the support that they need."

Representative Nancy Mace and Representative Lee Hewitt introduced bill, H. 5006, on Thursday to make child luring a crime.

"The legislation is in response to concerns from Mount Pleasant residents and law enforcement officials about attempted efforts by adults to lure children into cars or vans, sometimes using puppies as lures, and the inability to charge the person with a crime," Hewitt posted on Facebook.

Hewitt stated the bill is modeled after Florida's child luring law.

There are different levels of conviction proposed in the bill.

For a first offense it would be a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned not more than one year. For a second offense, or subsequent offense, it would also be a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

If a person tries to lure a child under the age of 13 the penalties are more severe. A first offense would mean the person would be charged with a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than five years. For a second offense, or subsequent offense, it would also be a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

The bill states that a mistake of age is not a defense unless the person reasonably believed that his action was necessary to prevent the child from sustaining serious injury; person lured, enticed, or attempted to lure or entice, the child into the conveyance, dwelling, or structure for a lawful purpose; or person's actions were otherwise reasonable under the circumstances and he did not have the intent to harm the health, safety, or welfare of the child.

Here is a link to the bill:

http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess122_2017-2018/bills/5006.htm

Here is the link to find your House Representative so that you can voice your opinion on the bill:

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