Arnold Introduces Legislation to Toughen Penalties for Child Pornography

Senator Dave Arnold (R-48) has introduced his first piece of legislation in the Senate, sponsoring a bill that would increase penalties for those convicted of child pornography in cases when the victim is very young or is known by the abuser.

            “The criminal justice system should no longer simply penalize those who ‘only look but do not touch’ with a slap on the wrist,” Arnold said.  “Penalties should be brought more in line with the offenders who are actually taking the photographs or videos and inappropriately touching young children.”

            Under the measure, an individual who is convicted of possessing child pornography in which the person depicted is less than 6 years of age, or prepubescent, would receive a charge that is one grade higher than the current statute allows.

            This would mean a felony of the third degree would become a felony of the second degree, and a felony of the second degree would become a felony of the first degree.

            “This proposal is aimed at protecting the most vulnerable young children who often lack the ability to cognitively understand the abuse they are enduring. While they may not understand it in the moment, the abuse they have suffered can last a lifetime,” Arnold said.  “This legislation aims to hold those who target the youngest and most vulnerable more accountable for their appalling acts.”

            The bill would also permit the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to provide a sentence enhancement for those convicted of the sexual abuse of children, when the person depicted is known by the defendant.  

            “Well over two-thirds of all children who are sexually abused are done so at the hands of a known perpetrator,” Arnold said. “It’s time to hold the individuals who commit these heinous acts accountable and provide appropriate sentences.