PJ Media

Should "visual sexual aggression" be against the law?

Apparently, there are some politicians and police officers a href=”http://www.seacoastonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080406/NEWS/804060343/-1/NEWS01″in Maine who think the answer is “yes” /a (thanks to Peregrine John for pointing this potential law out):br /br /blockquoteThose who peer at children in public could find themselves on the wrong side of the law in Maine soon.br /br /A bill that passed the House last month aims to strengthen the crime of visual sexual aggression against children, according to state Rep. Dawn Hill, D-York.br /br /Her involvement started when Ogunquit Police Lt. David Alexander was called to a local beach to deal with a man who appeared to be observing children entering the community bathrooms. Because the state statute prevents arrests for visual sexual aggression of a child in a public place, Alexander said he and his fellow officer could only ask the man to move along.br /br /”There was no violation of law that we could enforce. There was nothing we could charge him with,” Alexander said.br /br /He attended a talk with Hill a week later and brought the case to her attention. Hill pledged to do what she could, Alexander said, and the result was a change through the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in the House, which made the law applicable in both private and public places….br /br /Under the bill, if someone is arrested for viewing children in a public place, it would be a Class D felony if the child is between 12 to 14 years old and a Class C felony if the child is under 12, according to Alexander.br /br /Hill said she believes the move was necessary to correct what she called a “loophole” in the state’s criminal law statutes./blockquotebr /br /I have a lot of questions about such a law. What does peering actually mean? Does staring at a teen who looks 25 when one is at the beach count? Does staring at some kids like I did a few years ago because they looked like they were trying to get into some trouble count or am I excluded from the law because I am a woman? A Class C Felony is a serious charge, will people (mainly men, I assume) be put in jail for the simple act of staring? How do you know the person had the intent of “visual sexual aggression”? How does one determine if staring or peering is aggressive or not? One person’s aggression is another’s peaceful gaze. This law seems very vague and unfair. Does anyone in Maine care?br /br /strongUpdate:/strong I have contacted and left messages and email for Representative Dawn Hill, who is sponsoring this bill, asking for clarification. As soon as (and if) she responds, I will post an update. I have also emailed the reporter of a href=”http://www.seacoastonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080406/NEWS/804060343/-1/NEWS01″the article /a that I linked to above to see why there is a discrepancy between what a href=”http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/billpdfs/LD207901.pdf”this bill says /aand the story presented.br /br /strongUpdate II: /strong There appears to be an amendment a href=”http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/externalsiteframe.asp?ID=280027586LD=2079Type=4SessionID=7″to the bill here/a (thanks to commenters, and to readers for emailing it) and Dave Choate, the reporter of the article quoted above emails the following to me: br /br /blockquoteHelen,br /br /As indicated to me, the person could be arrested if they were found to be peering at a child in a public place; i.e., beach bathrooms. In my interviews for this story, no one indicated to me that you would need to expose yourself. I believe the aim of the change was to make it a crime to peer in public.br /br /Thank you,br /br /Dave/blockquotebr /br /strongFinally:/strong Looks like the news story a href=”http://drhelen.blogspot.com/2008/04/visual-sexual-aggression-not-so-much.html”isn’t true,/a based on my conversation with Travis Kennedy of the Maine Legislature.