Utah lawmaker co-sponsors legislation to crack down on child sexual exploitation, abuse

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (ABC4) – A Utah lawmaker is co-sponsoring legislation to strengthen federal efforts in response to sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

In recent weeks, multiple people in Utah have been arrested for possessing or asking for photos or videos of naked minors, including a Riverton man who was arrested on 100 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and a BYU student offering to pay a 16-year-old thousands of dollars for nude photos. Last month, the U.S. Sentencing Commission released a report that studied child sexual abuse image producers and found these crimes have increased by 422% over the last 15 years.

Now, Representative Burgess Owens (R-Utah) is co-sponsoring the Child RESCUE Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by two representatives from Virginia to strengthen the federal efforts to rescue children from sexual exploitation and abuse.

The Child RESCUE Act – or the Child Response to Exploitation and Sexual Abuse of Children in Unaddressed Emergencies Act – would create a national commission to study proactive strategies and identify resources needed to locate and rescue children from sexual exploitation and abuse.

“As a father of six and grandfather to 16, I am heartsick by the prevalence of child abuse, exploitation, and horrific trauma in our country,” says Rep. Owens. “The Child RESCUE Act will rapidly expand our toolbox to assist local child protective services and law enforcement officials in the fight to protect our children, prosecute offenders, and put an end to these heinous crimes.”

You can read the full text of the bill here.

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