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Easley Signs Child Exploitation Prevention Act

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Law enforcement officers now have new tools to catch Internet predators.

Gov. Mike Easley has signed into law the "Child Exploitation Prevention Act." It is now a felony to solicit sex from anyone over the Internet, including an undercover officer, whom he or she believes to be a child.

"This bill sends a clear message to child predators who use the Internet to seek out their victims," said Easley. "These criminals cannot hide behind their computer screens. We will find them and we will put them behind bars."

Under current law, a predator who solicits an officer posing as a minor could only be charged with a misdemeanor.

Additionally, the bill will also authorize the SBI to investigate the technology and methodology used by online predators by means of a computer, network, Internet, or e-mail.

"Child predators are cruising the Internet today more than they cruise the playgrounds," said Attorney General Cooper. "Now, when these criminals go online, law enforcement officers will be there to stop them before they can hurt our children."

Convicted online predators must also register as a sex offender. They must also provide DNA samples for the state's database.

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