U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is championing a proposal cracking down on stalkers targeting minors.
This week, Nelson paired up with U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn., to unveil the “Combat Online Predators Act,” a bill increasing criminal penalties on stalkers going after minors including those that take part in cyberstalking, adding an additional five years to a sentence if a stalker targets someone under the age of 18. Their bill also mandates the U.S. Justice Department study federal, state and local laws targeting stalkers and reviewing the best practices to share with law enforcement agencies across the nation
“We need to do everything we can to better protect our children from these online predators and send a clear message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.”
The U.S. House overwhelmingly passed its version of the bill--which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., and U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., on a 409-2 vote.
Fitzpatrick, a former federal prosecutor and FBI agent, weighed in on why the bill was needed last fall.
“We must do everything we can to forcefully respond to egregious instances of stalking and cyberstalking, especially when committed against minors – the most vulnerable among us,” Fitzpatrick said. “The Combat Online Predators Act ensures that, not only are we increasing penalties for these crimes, but also requiring federal law enforcement officials to constantly evaluate and update practices to combat this digital harassment. There is still work to be done at the state level, but today’s passage shows we are serious about making these needed changes at the national level.”
“As parents, we would do anything to keep our children safe, whether they’re in the school yard or on the Internet,” said Murphy. “This bill will send a clear message that we will not tolerate anyone who stalks or preys on minors. I’m proud that we’ve advanced bipartisan legislation to increase the maximum criminal penalty for this heinous crime and help provide some peace of mind to families across the country.”