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By ARep | February 11th, 2014 - 12:14pm
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Legislation has been introduced by Assemblyman Ron Dancer that establishes new crimes to protect children from commercial exploitation.

The severity of exploitation of children through human trafficking and forced prostitution was illustrated by the rescue of 16 teenage victims and the arrest of 45 suspects during Super Bowl-related activities in the New Jersey area.

“Given the post-Super Bowl awareness of these despicable sexual crimes against children, it is unconscionable to turn a blind eye or deaf ear to the actions of depraved individuals and crime rings that promote and profit from this abuse,” said Dancer, R-Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex and Monmouth. “These are children forced to work as slaves in a state where we are justly proud and protective of our freedoms.”

Dancer’s bill, A-2639, establishes new crimes for promoting commercial exploitation of a child and engaging in commercial exploitation of a child. A person would be guilty of the second degree crime of promoting commercial exploitation for knowingly selling, advertising, promoting, or facilitating travel, for the purpose of aiding another person to partake in prostitution, human trafficking, or causing or permitting a prohibited sexual act with someone under the age of 18.

“Heinous crimes were committed against children in our State. Although we didn't have a team in the Super Bowl, this legislation would be a super victory for the future of our children,” said Dancer.

The measure defines “engaging in commercial exploitation of a child” as a person knowingly purchasing travel services for the purpose of engaging in any of the above acts. That offense would be a third degree crime.

“Children are the most vulnerable members of the population, and a society may be judged by the way it treats its children. These atrocities are obscured by secrecy and the fear of victims too afraid to speak out,” said Dancer. “Creating new laws that match the severity of the offense is a critical step toward removing the contemptible individuals and organizations who are robbing these children of their innocence, their dignity and their free will.”

In addition, Dancer’s bill amends Megan’s law to require a person convicted of the commercial exploitation of children to register as a sex offender, and adds both categories of commercial exploitation of a child to the enumerated offenses considerd “racketeering activity” under New Jersey’s anti-racketeering law.

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"Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Hudson County Democrat, is balking. He claimed Tuesday that members of his caucus are divided over the measure and that his house is in no real rush – besides, even if enacted this year, the reforms would not take effect until 2017, he said. And with the growing belief that Christie could skip town to run for president, some Democrats are not eager to give him another talking point for his résumé. Christie’s plans to stump for Republican candidates in New Hampshire later Thursday only fuel that suspicion." - columnist Charles Stile

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