Bill that closes child porn loophole heading to Gov. Haley's des - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Bill that closes child porn loophole heading to Gov. Haley's desk

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BATESBURG-LEESVILLE, SC (WIS) -

Child pornography has become one of the fastest growing businesses online.

In South Carolina, the Attorney General's Office even has a task force to help lock up people who produce, possess, or distribute child porn.

But the very definition of "child porn" is causing some big problems for prosecutors due to a loophole that keeps some sex offenders on the streets.

On Thursday, a bill passed both the House and the Senate to close the loophole and keep kids safe.

For freshman State Rep. Ralph Kennedy, R-Leesville, the bill is a big accomplishment.

"Fellow members told me that it's unusual for a freshman to be able to get a bill passed and sent all the way to the governor for her signature," Kennedy said.

This bill doesn't rename a road or appoint a state symbol. Instead Kennedy said it'll protect children immediately.

"I had two young kids as a prosecutor, and sometimes I would read about things in the paper about a tragedy happening to a child, and it'd almost make me weep. I could only imagine how I'd feel if something happened to one of my kids," Kennedy said.

The bill aims to close a loophole in South Carolina law related to child pornography.

As WIS first discovered last year, pictures and videos that would be defined as child porn in all other states were technically legal in South Carolina.

"She can be nude, you know," said Assistant Attorney General Bethany Miles. "She can be bent over. She can be in lingerie. She can have her hands strategically placed where it's not sexual activity, but if a reasonable person would see it, you would think it's child pornography, and it even could be classified as that under federal statute, but in South Carolina, that's not what the law currently says."

And Kennedy said that loophole attracted sex offenders to come here and even live here.

"People who break the law, especially pedophiles, are very savvy," Miles said. "They know what they can get away with. They know what they can't get away with. As a result of that loophole, you were unable sometimes to prosecute truly dangerous, evil people."

Kennedy's bill makes all nude images and videos illegal "When a reasonable person would infer the purpose is sexual stimulation."

If signed by the governor, Kennedy said his bill will hopefully drive sex offenders away from the state.

"We want them out of South Carolina, and if they don't want to get out of South Carolina we want them in the Department of Corrections," Kennedy said.

After the hard work of getting it through the House and Senate, all the freshman lawmaker needs now is Governor Haley's signature.

A spokesman for Gov. Haley told WIS Sunday she will sign the bill.

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