San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris today announced new legislation that would make it illegal for registered sex offenders in California to use social networking Web sites.
The legislation, sponsored by Harris and authored by Assemblywoman Norma Torres, D-Pomona, calls for registered sex offenders who violate the new law to face jail time as a result.
“Registered sex offenders using social networking sites is criminal behavior,” Harris said in a statement. “It’s time we made it a crime.”
She said children and youth use social networking Web sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, as a “playground” and they should be protected from sexual predators.
“When our children are on the Internet, it’s like opening the front door of our home,” Harris said. “We must shut that door to sex offenders.”
Several recent cases in Southern California of sexual predators using social networking sites to assault young victims have emphasized the need for the law, according to Harris.
In November 2009, a 12-year-old girl became acquainted with a 33-year-old man on MySpace and met him at an Anaheim motel where she was sexually assaulted, Harris said.
Also in 2009, a 14-year-old Pomona boy met a 47-year-old man online. The man later pleaded guilty to sodomizing the boy.
A 32-year-old man in Riverside was found to be using a social networking site to convince more than 80 children from 11 to 17 to send him nude photographs.
“California has the highest population of sex offenders in the nation,” Harris said. “It’s crucial that we shut off predators’ access to our children online.”