State Sens. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) testified today in support of Senate Bill 247, which would create a public database of individuals convicted of sexual exploitation.
“Under current law, it is not difficult for someone caught soliciting a prostitute to keep that information hidden from family and friends, which is why we are nowhere near reducing the demand for bodies,” Fedor said. “We need to pass this vital piece of legislation to make sure Ohio gets to the core of who is driving this criminal enterprise.”
The database proposed in SB 247 would list the name, address, photo and offense for which the buyer was convicted of or pled guilty to. Offenders would remain on the list for five years before being automatically removed, unless the offender successfully petitions for an earlier removal. The bill would also raise buying sex from a third- to a first-degree misdemeanor and require first-time offenders to pay a fine of up to $1,500 and attend an education and treatment program.
Additionally, the bill would create the new offense of “receiving proceeds of prostitution,” which would criminalize any third party who knowingly receives compensation – including drugs or cash – from a buyer of sex. This offense would be raised from a third- to a second-degree felony if the victim is a minor.
Human trafficking is a cash-driven business that brings in $99 billion worldwide and $10 to 15 billion annually in the United States, all at the expense of victims. In Ohio alone, there were 1,032 victims of human trafficking identified in 2019. Despite these numbers, it is often difficult to prosecute offenders because Ohio’s current anti-human trafficking laws do not criminalize the act of assisting, enabling or financially benefitting from trafficking. This legislation would make it easier to target offenders who perpetuate the growth of human trafficking.
“No one accidentally engages in sexual activity for hire – these offenders are aware that their conduct is illegal and choose to engage anyway,” Schaffer said. “This bill would shine a light on this horrible crime and focus on those who pay to engage in the act and create the demand which keeps it alive.”Click here to watch Sens. Fedor and Schaffer's testimony.