Rep. Mike Johnson (LA-04) introduced his first bill, the Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act, to close a gap in current law that leaves the most innocent of victims vulnerable.
Rep. Johnson introduced this bill after a ruling in the Fourth Circuit reversed the conviction of a child sexual assault because the court could not find intent from the inappropriate images on the offender’s phone.
In the case, United States v. Palomino-Coronado — Fourth Circuit, the defendant admitted to sexually abusing a child and memorializing the conduct, but escaped federal conviction because he lacked the requisite “purpose,” or specific intent, when he took the picture – a clear contradiction to Congress’ objective of protecting children and criminalizing the production of images of child sexual abuse. Rep. Johnson’s proposed legislation would close the loophole in existing law and help ensure tasteless, destructive images of children produced in this horrifying manner are met with the appropriate punishment.
Rep. Johnson released the following statement:
“The first responsibility of any just government is to defend the defenseless. In Romans 13, Scripture refers to the governing authorities as ‘God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.’ Among the most despicable criminals who deserve the full measure of our wrath are those who sexually abuse innocent children.
“When I arrived to Congress, I was surprised to learn of a court-created loophole in federal law that allows a predator to ADMIT to sexually assaulting a child in many circumstances and still evade punishment. Today I filed legislation to fix that. The Protection Against Child Exploitation Act will ensure any future perpetrators receive the justice they so rightly deserve.”