Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following remarks during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of the Global Child Protection Act (H.R. 1862).
Chairman Goodlatte: Today, we continue our efforts to combat child exploitation by marking up legislation designed to address loopholes in current law. We must assure that those who hurt children are not permitted to evade responsibility due to oversights or unintended legal inconsistencies. Anyone who sexually abuses a child should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
I commend Ms. Roby for her commitment to protecting children with the introduction of HR 1862. This bill will provide law enforcement with a crucial tool in assuring that predators do not escape justice by committing offenses abroad.
Specifically, the bill ensures that the definition of “illicit sexual conduct” includes all potential situations where an adult defendant may abuse a child during foreign travel to engage in what is called “sex tourism.” This bill closes a significant loophole in pursuing these offenders. No longer will they be able to go abroad to prey on children without facing a possibility of a significant punishment at home. They will also not be able to escape enhanced sentences for doing so.
We live in an age where information sharing allows us to work together and accomplish great things. Unfortunately, that information sharing can also be used for nefarious purposes, including allowing child predators to share information on how to get away with abuse. The reality is that these criminals know exactly what conduct they can partake in to avoid prosecution, disseminating “how-to” guides to fellow predators. They participate in these acts without compunction, confident they will not face consequences. That cannot be the case.
Every child predator should face punishment commensurate with their actions. This is especially true for recidivists who abuse our youngest, most vulnerable victims. Ms. Roby’s bill further addresses loopholes that currently permit those who engage in illicit sexual contact with minors under the age of 12 with the intent to sexually degrade, humiliate, and abuse them to avoid recidivism enhancements. Congress always intended for these victims to have the greatest protections – and we must ensure our laws reflect that intent.
HR 1862 is good, well-crafted, common-sense legislation that will do a great deal to protect the most vulnerable among us. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill.