US Senate votes to enhance penalties for cyber-stalking minors

National

WASHINGTON (WHTM) – The U.S. Senate has passed legislation to increase penalties against those who stalk children.

U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania and Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) introduced the bill, the Combat Online Predators Act. It enhances criminal penalties for stalkers by up to five years if the victim is a minor.

The proposal was inspired by a Bucks County teenager who was cyber-stalked by a friend’s father on social media. Despite his sexually explicit text messages, the 51-year-old stalker pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to probation and counseling.

Three years later, in 2016, he posted thousands of altered images of the teen on social media. He was arrested again and sentenced to between 18 months and seven years in state prison.

The bill is awaiting consideration in the House.

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