PORTLAND-- A proposed law would move up the crime of soliciting sex from a minor to a felony, but it's not as strong as proponents had hoped.
Morally, if you're paying to have sex with a child, that needs to be a felony, said Joel Shapiro with the Kids Are Not For Sale Coalition.
As it stands, it's not a felony, it's just a misdemeanor and the person paying never has to register as a sex offender.
Clearly it says that Oregon is a place where you should come if you're looking for having sex with a child without serious punishment, Shapiro added.
That's why Shapiro helped to draft a recent bill hoping to change that.
Almost any other sexual contact you would have with a child would be a felony. Why would paying for sex with a child not be a felony? Shapiro said.
As KGW showed through our investigations, the supply and demand for underage girls is rampant across this city. Supporters of the bill even showed our stories as testimony on the House floor.
We were able to negotiate a compromise and I feel good about it, said Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie.
A compromise because the Senate wanted it to be a felony only after the so-called john had been caught three times, while those who drafted the bill, including Tomei, wanted it to be a felony on the first offense.
It's not exactly what I would like but I think its a doable compromise. The only other option would be no bill at all, she added.
So here's what most likely will get passed:
-- First time a Class A misdemeanor, 30 days jail, $10,000 fine and possibly a sex offender registration.
-- Second time, a Class C felony, 90 days jail, $20,000 fine and a sex offender registration.
Why should we be lenient on guys that are paying minors for sex? asked Portland Jeff Ruppel of the Sex Trafficking Division.
Portland police argue it won't matter because most johns will never be caught a second time, there's just too many of them out there.
We get repeat johns arrested but it' few and far between, Ruppel said, That first time is crucial that we get them because you know it's not the first time they've done it.
The bill is up for a vote Friday.
Representative Tomei said she hopes to strengthen that law next session.