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Summary: According to the committee report, interested parties note that addressing contact of a child with intent to sexually abuse could help prevent the occurrence of damaging sexual abuse and exploitation. HB 1010 enhances from Class C misdemeanor Class A misdemeanor certain acts within the under the Assaultive Offenses chapter of the Penal Code to. The enhancement to Class A misdemeanor would only apply to someone 17 years or older who "intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with a child" that a "reasonable person" would consider "offensive in a sexual nature" or "likely to precede sexual conduct".
Analysis: HB 1010 seeks to address the issue of grooming a child for the purpose of committing sexual assault. This legislation strikes a careful balance to ensure that innocent and incidental contact between adults and minors does not end up being prosecuted under this law. In order to secure a conviction, a prosecutor would have to prove that the defendant knew and intended to cause contact with a child that a reasonable person would consider offensive in a sexual nature or likely to precede sexual contact. This is a high bar that will prevent an innocent person being arrested for perceived inappropriate physical contact of a child, or the falsely accused from being prosecuted and convicted under this law.
Many predators groom their victims by using escalating levels of contact before crossing the legal threshold of sexual assault. This bill will give law enforcement a better tool to prevent sexual assault. We support HB 1010.