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Bipartisan PA Reps push for Alicia’s Law to crack down on internet child sexual exploitation | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing


10 June 2024- Reps. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny) and Jessica Benham (D-Allegheny) and Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-Allegheny) came together today to announce they have introduced Alicia’s Law in the House and Senate to fund the prosecution of technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation and internet crimes against children.

They were joined at the press conference by Alicia Kozak, who was abducted from her Pittsburgh home by an internet predator at the age of 13 in 2002. She became the first known case of such a crime. Alicia was chained and held captive in the perpetrator’s dungeon in Virginia. He livestreamed the abuse, and Alicia was rescued thanks to an anonymous tip to the FBI. Since her rescue, Alicia has been an outspoken advocate for internet safety by working to educate the public and policymakers about the dangers of online predators and ways to end predatory crime.

“Since the horrendous events Alicia endured, internet crimes against children have exploded partially due to the proliferation of social media apps and smartphone usage,” Ortitay said. “As the father of a preschool daughter, we need to send a message to perpetrators that they cannot hide online. We will find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”

“As we navigate the complexities of the digital age, it’s imperative that our law enforcement agencies have the necessary resources to address the alarming rise of internet crimes against children,” Robinson said. “By introducing Alicia’s Law, we are taking a proactive step to provide crucial funding for the prosecution of technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation and other online crimes targeting children. It’s imperative that our laws keep pace with evolving technology as we work tirelessly to keep Pennsylvania kids safe.”

“Our attorney general needs more tools in her toolbox to address internet crimes against children,” Benham said. “Our laws need to catch up to our technology as we work to keep Pennsylvania kids safe.”

“As a survivor of abduction and exploitation, I know firsthand the critical importance of having dedicated resources to combat these heinous crimes,” Kozak said. “In my over 20 years of speaking to students across the country, most recently in Pennsylvania, I have seen the devastating impact that online predators can have on young lives. Technology and predator tactics have vastly changed since my ordeal and we must ensure those in this fight are best-equipped to do their work in this ever-evolving tech-based world. Alicia’s Law will empower law enforcement task forces with the tools they need to swiftly identify, apprehend and prosecute these predators. Every child deserves to grow up safe from harm, and each day without this law is a day too many in which children remain vulnerable. Passing Alicia’s Law is a vital step in our commitment to protect our children and ensure justice for those who have suffered. It is time to stand together for Pennsylvania’s children and make it a safer place for every child.”

“Never did I think my family could fall victim when I saw Alicia’s story on the news at the time,” said Jill, a Pittsburgh-area mother. “Years later, my daughter was the victim of a sexual predator. Recently, Alicia presented at her school, and we decided as a family we had to stand up and do something about this. It is time for our legislators to stand with us to support Alicia’s Law, support the safety of our children and ensure the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has enough resources in place to keep them safe by properly investigating and prosecuting predators who use the internet to harm our children.”

“Giving law enforcement teams what they need to prevent and respond to these heinous crimes must be our utmost priority,” said Lena Hannah, who worked to bring Kozak to South Fayette Township School District to speak to students in 2010 and 2024. “Our children depend upon it. Your children depend upon it. Supporting Alicia’s Law will save lives.”

“In my 16 years as an Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) investigator, I would have never imagined that it could get worse,” said Det. Sgt. Chaz Balogh, Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office. “Well, it has. CyberTips have tripled since COVID, which has created a backlog of cases. Law enforcement is in desperate need of funding to increase our resources and help the ICAC Task Force to further our mission.”

House Bill 2199 and Senate Bill 1233 would create a process to establish state and local task forces across the Commonwealth to fight internet crimes against children. These task forces would supplement and enhance the work of the existing federal Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program, under which 61 task forces nationwide receive funding, training and technical assistance for the protection of children who are online. One of these currently operates in Pennsylvania. Furthermore, under the bills, additional funding for these new task forces and any federally recognized task forces in Pennsylvania would come from a partial redirection of an existing funding stream that supports judicial operations.

Alicia’s Law already is in effect in 12 states. The bills have been referred to the respective judiciary committees.



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