AUGUSTA - A bill to strengthen the laws protecting minors from sex traffickers, sponsored by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, was unanimously endorsed by the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday.
The bill, LD 1261 “An Act to Protect Minors from Sex Trafficking” strengthens Maine’s laws concerning protection of children by making it a crime to solicit sex from anyone under the age of 18.
“The age of consent in Maine is 16, but I think it’s important to deem it a crime to solicit prostitution from anyone under 18,” said Sen. Diamond. “In many, if not all instances, minors engaging in prostitution are doing so as a result of sex trafficking. Lawmakers have a solemn responsibility to do all we can to protect the most vulnerable among us and discourage the exploitation of minors. I am confident this bill will pass through the Legislature because Democrats and Republicans are working together to protect our children from abuse.”
The bill is an attempt to bolster Maine’s laws against sexual abuse in response to a poor grade received by Shared Hope International, an organization that advocates for tougher protections against crimes involving prostitution and sex trafficking.
The bill will now go to the House and Senate for a majority vote.