Online Predator bill waits for Governor's signature

Posted by: Cody Holyoke -bio | email

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) -- In just seconds, your kids can have the world at your fingertips.

Sometimes, however, the internet is not what it seems.

"Somebody who introduces themselves as a 13 year old girl might really be a 67 year old, multiple time convicted violent sexual predator," said Attorney General Troy King.

Pedophiles and criminals stalk the information superhighway.

Law enforcement officers aren't too far behind, but in Alabama, posing as a child to catch a predator doesn't always work.

"There are judges who reason that an undercover policeman's not a child and therefore, there's a loophole in the law, and these predators are being turned back out on the streets of Alabama," King said.

A bill just passed through the Alabama Legislature closes the loophole, allowing authorities to press charges--even if the person a suspect chats with isn't a kid.

"They're going to eventually find out where they live and go to school," said Gene Sisson, King's Chief Investigator.

Authorities may soon have the upper hand, able to effectively and legally intervene before it's too late.

"To enter into a conversation with these predators--and have something like that stand up [in court]--is going to make a tremendous difference," Sisson said.

Some parents already take precautions to protect their teens.

"We definitely track the sites they go to, and they never know when we're going to walk in and say, 'Let me have your computer.  I'm going to do a check,'" explained Pam Ramsey of Auburn.

Others may not be as savvy but say they're for anything that keeps children safe.

"It makes me leery sometimes, you know, as to who they're talking to and things like that. Who's on the other side," said David Mayfield of Oxford.

The bill awaits Governor Bob Riley's signature.

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