State Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy), along with State Rep. Julie Calley (R-Portland), introduced House Bills 4159 and 4160, respectively, earlier this week. This legislation would close a loophole in the law to protect vulnerable adults from being sexually exploited online by instituting a criminal penalty to hold sexual predators accountable and discourage repeat offenses.

“I am happy to work with my colleague across the aisle to make the Internet a safer place for our most vulnerable adults,” said Kuppa. “We tell parents to be aware of the threat of online predators because children are so vulnerable, but we also need to remember there is an entire adult population that is at risk of being equally exploited and are not currently protected by the law. We must make it abundantly clear that exploiting the vulnerable will not be tolerated, no matter the age of the victim.”

This legislation, also known as “Justice for Allie,” comes from a heartbreaking story from the Hayes family, whose daughter Allie was taken advantage of by an online predator, who targeted her due to her status as a vulnerable adult.

These bills, taken together, are a re-introduction of House Bill 4076, which was passed by the Families, Children and Seniors Committee unanimously last term with bipartisan support.