Bill tries to close sex-predator loophole

By Charles Ashby

THE DAILY SENTINEL

Sexual predators who use social media to lure teenagers would face felony charges under a bill that won preliminary approval in the Colorado Senate on Monday.

House Bill 1030 was initially introduced to deal with cases such as one in Moffat County last year.

There, Moffat County High School teacher and coach Justin Folley was acquitted in December on 10 felony counts of sexual exploitation of a child because current law doesn’t cover messages that contain no photos or videos or if the victim is at least 15 years old and younger than 18 years old.

Folley had been accused of sending sexually explicit messages and images over the social media app known as Snapchat. But because that app automatically deletes messages after a short time, there were no images that could be used as evidence in the case.

As a result, Folley was found not guilty on all counts.

The two Senate sponsors of the bill, Sens. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, and Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada, said the law already applies if victims are 14 years of age and under, but it doesn’t for those from 15 to 17.

“We believe that a person in a position of trust should not be allowed to do this to 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds,”┬áZenzinger said.

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