Governor Andy Beshear signed House Bill 254 into law on Tuesday, which raises the penalty for crimes involving the sexual exploitation of a minor.
The bill, which received unanimous approval through the Kentucky legislature, raises the penalty for possession or viewing of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor under the age of 12 years to a Class C felony and raises the penalty for distribution to a Class C felony for the first offense and a Class B felony for each subsequent offense.
“As attorney general, I saw first-hand how our children can be exploited online, often without even realizing it. HB 254 provides law enforcement with the authority to charge offenders with more serious crimes,” said Gov. Beshear. “This bill is personal to me as a father of a 10- and an 11-year-old. Protecting our children has to be our number one priority.”
Like House Bill 254, House Bill 472 further protects Kentucky children by extending the statute of limitations for misdemeanor sex offenses against children from five to 10 years, among other provisions.
“Most children, in particular the very young, do not disclose abuse in real time,” said Gov. Beshear. “We must do everything we can to create the safe pathways so that survivors of childhood sexual abuse feel empowered to make their voices heard and tell their stories in their own time, while ensuring we can still hold the perpetrators accountable.”