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HB 6638 Being Misconstrued

Posted on May 31, 2023

Last week, after House Bill 6638 passed the House it was misconstrued by some as offering new legal protections for pedophiles.  Unfortunately, that information is incorrect and continues to spread.  Legislative attorneys, legal experts, many statewide media outlets and even the Associated Press have covered this topic and bill extensively.

Unfortunately, this one bill is being used, and its language and intent perverted, to politicize a hot-button issue. The fact is, pedophilia is and remains illegal.

Sexual activity with a minor is illegal under federal law!  While police powers are generally left to the states, it is against federal law to engage in a sexual act with a minor. Title 18 U.S.C. § 2243(a) makes it a crime to engage in a sexual act with another person who is under 16 years old and more than 4 years younger than the offender. This crime carries a penalty of incarceration of up to 15 years. Furthermore, this is a strict liability crime, meaning the prosecutor doesn’t even need to prove that the offender knew the individual was 16 years old or younger.

In Connecticut, an individual commits statutory rape when he or she engaged in a sexual activity with a minor that is under 16 years old and more than 3 years younger than the offender. This crime is a Class B felony that carries with it a penalty of incarceration of up to 20 years in prison. Nothing in H.B. 6638 interferes with or diminishes the nature of this crime. If this bill passes the Senate and is signed into law, it does not open the door to the protection of pedophiles, rather it prohibits discrimination against individuals based on age and across the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

Writing about the Connecticut bill, the Associated Press reports: “The bill will not change any laws that criminalize acting on pedophilia, nor will it provide pedophiles with protections against discrimination, legal experts told The Associated Press.  Later in the article, it states: Anya Bernstein, a professor of law at the University of Connecticut, confirmed that the online claims misinterpret the bill’s possible impact. “This bill will have no effect on pedophilia whatsoever,” she told the AP. Bernstein also noted that the new language only protects people’s identity with respect to the gender of the people they’re attracted to. “It says nothing about the age of those people, so there’s just no way to read children into its scope,” she said.

The Hartford Courant reports: “According to the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, Connecticut is one of eight states that still has language “explicitly excluding behavior that is already criminal under statute from the definition of ‘sexual orientation.’” CHRO supports the removal of that language, which they said “plays into longstanding erroneous and offensive stereotypes connecting homosexuality and bisexuality to criminal behavior.”

Please see this link to another AP article that addresses the misinformation being circulated.

I hope this clarifies as to what this bill actually does.