LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A recent op-ed accusing California of legalizing child prostitution by a Huntington Beach lawmaker has drawn sharp criticism from the bill’s author.
State Senator Holly Mitchell’s bill to protect child sex workers from prosecution prompted Assemblyman Travis Allen to publish an op-ed, accusing California Democrats of legalizing child prostitution.
Senate Bill 1322 was signed into law in September and makes solicitation and loitering with the intent to commit prostitution a misdemeanor that does not apply to children under 18. It also gives law enforcement the authority to take sexually exploited children into temporary custody if it’s determined that not doing so would pose an immediate threat to a child’s health or safety.
Under the new law, children who might have been charged with criminal prostitution would now be treated as a victim of sex trafficking, making them eligible for treatment rather than prosecution. Mitchell compared charging child sex workers to prosecuting rape victims.
“The notion that he misinterpreted decriminalization with legalization is further disturbing,” Mitchell said.
The op-ed has been shared and written about thousands of times on social media.
Allen decried SB 1322 as “immunity from arrest” for minors engaging in prostitution, but also acknowledged that child prostitution, as well as pimping and pandering, are still crimes under the new law. He says he plans to introduce legislation to repeal the law.