Buying Child Sex Is Only A Misdemeanor In California. This Bill Would Change That.

'It takes two criminals to commit a crime of sex trafficking'
Blurred sad boy leaning open hand against glass door.
(Getty Images)

A California bill working its way through the legislature would make the crime of buying child sex a serious felony, replacing current statute in the far-left state that treats soliciting a minor for sex as a misdemeanor.

A bipartisan bill would raise solicitation of a minor from a misdemeanor to a felony punishable by up to four years in prison, and a fine of up to $25,000. The bill would also require a person convicted of soliciting a minor to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

The measure, introduced by Republican State Senator Shannon Grove in February and co-sponsored by two Democrats, is scheduled for a committee vote on Tuesday, but it faces an uphill battle for passage.

As of Thursday, the new bill did not have the votes to make it out of committee. Critics are concerned it could target minorities, she explained, but criticized that point of view.

“Red, yellow, black, or white, you should be in prison,” Grove said during a phone interview with The Daily Wire on Thursday, arguing that putting child sex buyers behind bars for two years will keep them off the streets and prevent them from soliciting more children, at least during that period.

She said she is working on negotiating with her colleagues without giving up the meat of the bill. Last year, Grove was able to convince a skeptical Democrat-controlled legislature to pass a similar bill that reclassified child sex trafficking from a misdemeanor to a major felony, establishing harsher criminal penalties for traffickers. That bill went into effect on January 1.

Democrats in the legislature were forced to reconsider and support the sex trafficking bill after scathing social media backlash criticizing their initial reluctance.

California’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom voiced support for last year’s bill, saying he personally called Grove about it and was “surprised” when it initially failed to pass the committee vote.

Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas (D) also said at the time that the issue was “something that we are addressing and it’s something we are going to get right.”

Neither Newsom nor Rivas responded to a request for comment on whether they would support Grove’s new bill targeting buyers.

Before Grove’s successful bill last year, lawmakers had tried at least nine times since 2007 to reclassify child sex trafficking as a more serious crime.

This year, her focus is the purchasers of child sex, Grove said.

“I want to make the solicitation, the person who’s going out there going, ‘hey little 13-year-old, fourteen-year-old, fifteen-year-old, I want to get that person. I want that person to face felony charges. That’s what the bill does,” Grove said during her interview with The Daily Wire.

Grove said she spoke to sex trafficking survivors last year who told her, “You’ve got to go after the buyers” in order to really crack down on the child sex trade.

A group called Exodus Cry, a nonprofit that works to abolish illegal sex trafficking posted a viral video to Instagram last week that featured people reacting with shock and disgust to hearing that buying child sex is only a misdemeanor in California.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Exodus Cry (@exoduscry)

Helen Taylor, vice president of impact at Exodus Cry argued that eliminating sex trafficking requires going after the demand and implementing proper deterrents.

“For this to currently be a misdemeanor, and frequently prosecuted as such, reveals an inadequate understanding of how serious of a crime sex trafficking is,” Taylor told The Daily Wire.

“We want every child in California to be better protected and receive the justice they deserve should they ever be trafficked and exploited at the hands of a sex buyer,” she said.

Taylor urged committee members to vote in favor of the bill on Tuesday.

“Our laws send a message about what behaviors we are willing to tolerate. Paying money to abuse a child is something we will not tolerate,” Taylor said. “It is surely a ‘no brainer’ to make buying a child for sex a felony in California and if not, we have a serious problem.”

Create a free account to join the conversation!

Already have an account?

Log in

Got a tip worth investigating?

Your information could be the missing piece to an important story. Submit your tip today and make a difference.

Submit Tip
Download Daily Wire Plus

Don't miss anything

Download our App

Stay up-to-date on the latest
news, podcasts, and more.

Download on the app storeGet it on Google Play
The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Buying Child Sex Is Only A Misdemeanor In California. This Bill Would Change That.