A bill that passed the House last month aims to strengthen the crime of visual sexual aggression against children, according to state Rep. Dawn Hill, D-York.
Her involvement started when Ogunquit Police Lt. David Alexander was called to a local beach to deal with a man who appeared to be observing children entering the community bathrooms. Because the state statute prevents arrests for visual sexual aggression of a child in a public place, Alexander said he and his fellow officer could only ask the man to move along.
"There was no violation of law that we could enforce. There was nothing we could charge him with," Alexander said.
He attended a talk with Hill a week later and brought the case to her attention. Hill pledged to do what she could, Alexander said, and the result was a change through the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in the House, which made the law applicable in both private and public places.
Under the bill, if someone is arrested for viewing children in a public place, it would be a Class D felony if the child is between 12 to 14 years old and a Class C felony if the child is under 12, according to Alexander.
I'm all for protecting children, but regulating the direction of the gaze of an otherwise law-abiding citizen is outrageous! How is it different from the criminalization of thought? The law supposes the person's intent, without evidence other than the direction in which his eyes look. Who will enforce this law out in the community? Will police now be tasked to discern the intent of a person whose eyes he dislikes the looks of? Will panicky soccer-mom, do-gooders run around public parks calling the cops every time they see an unescorted male who is facing the general direction of her toddler(wearing a protective jungle-gym helmet no doubt)?
Quick, somebody call the cops. Russel Crowe is on the loose.