House unanimously passes bills criminalizing online predators targeting vulnerable adults | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan House took steps Thursday to protect vulnerable Michiganders from online predators.

House Bills 4320 and 4387, would create penalties for anyone coercing vulnerable adults into sharing sexually explicit photos or videos.

There are currently no laws on the books in Michigan that directly criminalize those actions, bill sponsor Sharon MacDonell said.

Both bills passed the House with support from all 110 state representatives on Thursday afternoon.

Rep. MacDonell, D-Troy, said she was motivated to introduce the legislation after Allie Hayes, a young woman with down syndrome in her hometown was exploited by an online predator, who ended up spending less than a week in jail for his actions. Hayes was still a teenager when she was targeted.

“It’s not just about specifically sexual crimes, it’s also so many different ways that the vulnerable people in our community are taken advantage of,” MacDonell said.

MacDonell added that she worried for her own family members. She said her 20-year-old daughter — who she says is on the spectrum — and elderly mother who had dementia had both been targeted with financial scams.

The bills, which now head to the state Senate, would make exploiting a vulnerable adult over sexually explicit material a Class G felony. The maximum penalty for the act would be two years in prison.

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