TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - There are already laws and stiff penalties for those caught trying to buy and sell children for sex, but a new bill aims to send an even louder message to offenders.
State Representative Teresa Fedor says the goal of the new legislation is to get tougher on offenders and protect victims further. Fedor says it aims to make the penalties for trafficking in Ohio as stiff as the feds.
The House of Representatives voted on the version of the bill that had already been cleared by the state Senate Wednesday. It includes some changes to laws that already exist. Among the changes would be changing trafficking from a second degree felony to a first degree felony. It would also increase the jail time for offenders up to 15 years.
Fedor says human trafficking is a growing problem in the area that is often looked at as "dirty little known secret," and this legislation will bring perpetrators to light and hold them accountable.
"Any way you turn there are felonies for people who want to sell our children, and who also want to purchase our children for sex. And there's no way out, we are going to eradicate this from our communities, and clean this all up and protect our children," said Fedor.