Gov. DeSantis signs legislation to boost protections against sex predators | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

One year after signing legislation to allow the death penalty for those who sexually assault children, Gov. Ron DeSantis followed that up by signing a set of bills aimed at preventing those crimes from taking place.

“In Florida we stand for the well-being and innocence of our children,” DeSantis told reporters at a bill signing event in St. Petersburg. “We are going to crack down on the grooming of these minors.”

The five bills DeSantis signed were designed to prevent future assaults on children.

One bill (HB 1545) is aimed at increasing penalties in law for coaxing minors online, or “grooming” them into committing sexual acts. It makes it a third-degree felony to “engage in a pattern of communication to a minor that includes explicit and detailed verbal descriptions or narrative accounts of sexual activity, sexual conduct or sexual excitement and that is harmful to minors.”

Another measure (HB 1131) provides grants to local law enforcement agencies from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to set up online sting operations to catch predators.

“This whole online stuff is a major, major cesspool,” DeSantis said.

The other bills require stricter guidelines for sexual offenders to register where they live (HB 1235), boost authority for state’s Guardian ad Litem program helping foster children (SB 1224) and to allow hearsay evidence from 17-year-olds, up from the current threshold of 16-year-olds, to be presented at a trial over sexual abuse (HB 305).

“This year we have the ability to protect our most vulnerable, our youngest, our most innocent before they’re physically traumatized,” said Sen. Jonathan Martin, a Fort Myers Republican, one of the sponsors of the bills.

The new laws come four months after a State Attorney in Central Florida, Bill Gladson, announced he would be the first to seek the death penalty for a person accused of sexual battery on a minor. If the death penalty were to be issued, the case could draw a review from the U.S. Supreme Court, which has previously ruled the death penalty could only be given for murder.

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