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Bill to track down child sex predators on hold in Congress | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey


Legislation to help local law enforcement agencies catch child predators remains hung up in Congress. 

As part of awareness for National Child Abuse Prevention Month, advocates for the bill gathered Thursday to explain why it needs to be passed now.

Austin’s Hike and Bike Trail is where an online predator recently recorded images of young girls with his camcorder. A tip to APD’s child exploitation unit resulted in an arrest.

“There’s extremely high probability that he would have committed an offense,” said Detective Michael Schultheis with the APD Organized Crime Division’s Child Exploitation Unit.

The case was brought up on Thursday morning during this gathering with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, who asked the detective if there wasn’t any outcry about how the cyber tip came in.

“When the electronic service provider was going through that account, they found content that was created by the user,” said Schultheis.

The discussion was held at the Center for Child Protection. Counseling is provided there for children who are abused or who witness violent acts.

Victims, like Ashley Reynolds, shared their stories on Thursday of being exploited.

“By the end of my extortion, it was over 60 pictures of myself I was sending every single night. My mom had no idea,” said Reynolds. “No one in my life visibly would have any clue of what was going on in my life at the time, because I was able to hide it. I was virtually kidnapped.”

The group also heard how the problem continues to grow. Last year, the cyber tip line at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children took in 36 million calls. 

The information shared Thursday was examples of the justification for the reauthorization of the “Project Safe Childhood Act.” The legislation, which cleared the Senate back in October, will provide funding to modernize investigations, about $63 million. It is to help improve the prosecution of online child sex crimes.

“Trust me when I say these monsters do not stop until they are stopped. That’s why this bill is so important to maintain momentum and our progress as a nation to protect children. Since the original version of the Childhood Safe Act, the social metaverse exploded and advanced with the technology that predators have used to increase the rate at which they collaborate, to exploit children and effectively destroy their lives before their life can even begin,” said Lexie Smith, a victim of abuse.

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The legislation was described as a Priority Bill. Yet, it remains hung up in the House. Sen. Cornyn was asked if he is worried politics is getting in the way of a very easy vote.

“Well, unfortunately, there’s a lot of other things going on up in Washington. It’s distracting from important things like this that should be a priority. And some of it is doing last year’s work,” said Sen. Cornyn.

A K9 demonstration is an example of what’s being missed. The specially trained dog, named Nibble, located hidden electronic devices in a room at the Center. 

The team, from the Texas City Police Department, is one of only four currently in the state. Sen. Cornyn envisions more K9s like Nibble across the state if the act is passed.

“The predators aren’t standing still, and the technology is not stagnant,” said Cornyn.

Senator Cornyn is hoping the House will eventually take up the Senate Bill before the end of the year.



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