Sen. Grove introduces bi-partisan measure to continue fight against human trafficking

Senator Shannon Grove with joint authors of SB 1414. 

For high-resolution photos, click here. Photo courtesy: California State Senate  

Video remarks:  Senator Grove, Senator Rubio, Senator Caballero, Santa Barbara County Deputy District Attorney: Tyson McCoy.

Sacramento, CASen. Shannon Grove(R-Bakersfield) announced the introduction of a bipartisan measure Senate Bill 1414 (SB 1414), with joint authors Senator Anna Caballero (D-Merced) and Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park). This bill seeks to strengthen protections for children by making the act of soliciting, agreeing to engage in, or engaging in any act of commercial sex with a minor a felony.

“It takes two criminals to commit the crime of child sex trafficking, a buyer and a seller,” said Senator Shannon Grove. “With the passage of SB 14, we went after the sellers and now we are going after the buyers, those who are purchasing sex from children. Anyone who pays to commit brutal crimes against children should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. With the passage of SB 1414, California is sending a very clear message—Not one more child.”

“Perpetrators need to know that we are serious about protecting our children from abuse and exploitation. The trafficking of children for sex in our state demands swift and serious consequences. We need SB 1414 to protect the vulnerable children and youth who are exploited, coerced, or sold into the sex trade and fear for their lives. I am thankful to Senator Grove for her leadership in this area and I am honored to be a joint author of SB 1414 with her to put a stop to these heinous crimes against children," said Senator Anna Caballero.

“California has some of the highest numbers of reported human trafficking cases in the nation and tragically, children make up a majority of these victims. This is why I am a proud joint author of SB 1414, alongside my colleagues Senator Grove and Senator Caballero. We must protect our children and send a clear message that the exploitation of children for sex is a despicable crime that demands severe consequences," said Senator Susan Rubio.

Human Trafficking is Modern Slavery: 

California consistently ranks as the state with the highest number of reported human trafficking cases in the nation. Recognizing the gravity of this issue, the California Attorney General has labeled human trafficking as "modern day slavery." This illicit industry generates an estimated $150 billion per year globally, victimizing the most vulnerable among us.

Children, tragically, are a large portion of sex trafficking victims in the United States and are undoubtedly one of the most vulnerable populations. Many victims are coerced into this dark underworld during their formative years, growing up in an abusive system that robs them of their innocence. It is crucial to acknowledge that those who purchase sex from children are equally accountable for perpetuating this cycle of exploitation.

Under the existing law, solicitation, attempting to engage or engaging in sex with a minor for money is classified as a misdemeanor offense. However, there are exceptions that impose more severe punishments but often require specific circumstances, such as the age of the minor or the involvement of force. Unfortunately, these conditions create loopholes that allow offenders to avoid stricter penalties and undermine efforts to protect juvenile sex trafficking victims aged between 14 and 17.

To rectify this significant gap in the law, SB 1414 will fight to ensure not one more child is sold for sex in California. The proposed legislation states that any individual who solicits, agrees to engage in, or engages in commercial sex with a minor, regardless of their knowledge or reasonable suspicion of the minor's age, will now be charged with a felony. This offense will carry a prison sentence ranging from 2 to 4 years, a fine not exceeding $25,000, and registration as a sex offender.

"California must send a clear message that the exploitation of children for sex is an abhorrent crime that demands severe consequences. SB 1414 seeks to correct existing shortcomings and ensure that the actions of buyers are treated with the seriousness they deserve," concluded Senator Grove.

The passing of SB 1414 would bring California one-step closer to effectively combatting human trafficking and providing greater protection for the innocent victims caught in its web.