SANTA FE ― Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage, R-San Juan, pre-filed legislation to protect children from sexual predators who use their position of authority to prey on their victims.
Under current law, acts of criminal sexual penetration committed by certain persons of authority, such as school employees or school volunteers, on children between the ages of 13 and 18 could be considered fourth-degree felonies.
The bill, HB 121, would set the minimum penalty at a third-degree felony for all individuals who use their position of authority to commit criminal sexual penetration of a child.
If passed, prosecutors also would no longer need to prove that an individual expressly stated or leveraged their authority over the victim in order to be convicted of criminal sexual contact with a child.
“Our society teaches children to respect certain positions of authority without question,” Clahchischilliage said. “Skilled predators take advantage of the implicit trust we invest in these positions, and we need to fix the law to hold these violators accountable for their crimes against minors.”
In addition, HB 121 would make it clear that it’s a crime for a person of authority to engage in a sexual act with a minor, with or without the minor’s consent.