Fla. House OKs Anti-Grooming Bill; Pedophiles to Be ‘Hunted’

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(Dmytro “Henry” AleksandrovHeadline USA) On Feb. 5, 2024, legislation creating offenses for child grooming in the state of Florida passed its second committee assignment.

Reps. Taylor Yarkosky, R-Montverde, and Douglas Bankson, R-Apopka, were the sponsors for HB 1135 and Sen. Jonathan Martin, R-Fort Myers, was the sponsor for the Senate version, SB 1238.

The Florida House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously passed the bill, Florida’s Voice reported.

According to the text of the anti-grooming bill, it would make it a third-degree felony for any person above the age of 18 to use sexually inappropriate communication and conduct with someone under the age of 16 to entice, excite or compel them to participate in sexual activity that would automatically be considered illegal.

The bill comes “full circle” with the legislation from the previous session that allowed for the death penalty for individuals who raped a child under 12, Yarksosky said.

“In Florida, we’re taking a stand. You do this in the grooming world, all the way to raping a child under 12, and you are going to be hunted, you are going to be arrested, you are going to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” he stated.

As expected, Democratic members of the committee and speakers from the public became very concerned about the legislation, saying that it would make telling minors how to have sex (also known as “sex education“) in schools more difficult.

For example, John Maurer, the public policy director for Equality Florida, said that the bill is too broad and will impact public school curriculums.

“As written, it sweeps too broadly and risks banning, or at the very least, chilling important conversations where there is no harmful intent,” Maurer said.

Dr. Paul Arons, a retired physician from the Florida Department of Health, also expressed his concerns about the bill, saying that it would oppress LGBT people.

“Words have consequences. This bill could achieve its purported purpose if it simply stated, ‘a person 18 or over who maneuvers a person less than 16 into unlawful sexual activity commits a felony.’ Lewd and lascivious behaviors are already prohibited in Florida law and the word ‘grooming’ has taken on a purposeful and specifically anti-LGBTQ connotation,” he said.

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