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Legislators look to toughen pimping punishment

Iowa capitol
Iowa capitol

DES MOINES – Prosecutors and judges in Iowa will be able to take tougher measures against pimps and prostitutes who use children under a bill advancing in the Iowa legislature.

A study bill relating to the offenses of prostitution and pimping involving minors passed the House Judiciary Committee this week by a vote of 20-0. The bill now goes to the House floor.

Current law provides that a person who sells or offers for sale the person’s services as a partner in a sex act, or who purchases or offers to purchase such services, commits an aggravated misdemeanor (prostitution). The bill provides that if the person is under the age of 18 and reasonable grounds exist to believe that the influence or control of an adult contributed to the commission of the offense, the county attorney may elect, in lieu of prosecution, to refer the person to the department of human services alleging that the person is a child in need of assistance. The bill makes a conforming change to the definition of “child in need of assistance”.

Current law provides that a person who solicits a patron for a prostitute, or who knowingly takes or shares in the earnings of a prostitute, or who knowingly furnishes a room or other place to be used for the purpose of prostitution, whether for compensation or not, commits a class “D” felony (pimping). The bill provides that a person who violates the law with respect to a prostitute who is under the age of 18, commits a class “C” felony.

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