Maggie’s Law to protect children from sex predators and sexual grooming

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Jasper, Ind. (WEHT) – A Jasper mother fought for a sexual grooming bill for a very personal reason, to protect minors from child predators. 

Maggie’s Law is designed to protect children from unwanted advances and sex trafficking.

Brooke Sanders says her 14-year-old daughter Maggie was receiving inappropriate text messages from a man in his 40’s for nearly five months. The catch is that man was Maggie’s best friend’s dad. 

In April Governor Eric Holcomb signed a bill called Maggie’s Law to prevent sexual grooming from happening in the Hoosier state.

“Livid, angry, terrified, helpless” says Brooke Sanders. Those are the words Sanders used to describe her emotions when she found text messages on her daughter’s phone from a man she and her family trusted.

14-year-old Maggie traveled with the family, attended cheer competitions, sleep overs and had direct contact with the man for years. 

“When we looked at her phone, the messages started in October 2017 and continued and become more more February 2018 is when we discovered them” Sanders added. 

Sanders says the man never sent or received sexual pictures or asked sexual questions. He would send text messages telling the 14-year-old girl things like good morning, goodnight, he misses her, even asking Maggie to come over after school.

The most chilling is when the man sent the child a dozen roses and a bouquet balloons on Valentine’s Day with a card attached.

“The card said for as much as this life will bring about change. One thing will remain the same, the love that I have for you and the place that you have in my heart” Sanders said.

According to the American Bar Association this behavior is consider grooming, a technique used by most child predators.

Maggie’s law was sponsored by Indiana State Senate Majority Leader Mark Messmer.  

“Grooming would be as we defined it in the code practices with the intent to entice a child into illegal sexual behavior” says State Sen. Mark Messmer

Maggie’s law was signed by Governor Eric Holcomb on April 18, 2019. 

It will allow a parent or guardian to file an order of protection against another adult who has exhibited grooming behaviors. 

If convicted the person would be charged with invasion of privacy and could spend a year jail and a $5,000 fine. 

A repeat offender could face a level six felony. 

“If you see this type of behavior or you see the texting or the type of social interaction that you feel is improper or you think it might be improper call any law enforcement” says Sen. Messmer

Brooke Sanders says that two other sets of parents have come forward saying this man has also contacted their young daughters.

The Dubois County Prosecutor’s Office said the man is currently not facing charges.
Maggie’s law will take effect in Indiana July 1, 2019

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(This story was originally published on May 31, 2019)

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