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Abbott Signs Online Solicitation Measure Into Law

Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday signed into law a measure that makes online solicitation of a minor a punishable offense and changes the definition of a minor, calling it "regrettable that this bill is necessary."

Gov. Greg Abbott at the Texas State Prayer Breakfast in Austin on May 4, 2015.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday signed into law a measure that makes online solicitation of a minor a punishable offense.

“It is regrettable that this bill is necessary,” Abbott said in a statement. “This law will, however, provide law enforcement and prosecutors more tools to combat online predators.”

Senate Bill 344 by state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, and state Rep. Tony Dale, R-Cedar Park, changes the definition of a minor protected by online solicitation law to anyone younger than 17, rather than anyone who "represents himself or herself to be" younger than that age. The measure also drops certain defenses that can thwart prosecution.

Abbott cited a 2013 ruling by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that barred the state from prosecuting a public school teacher who sent sexually explicit text messages to a 15-year-old student.

Abbott said the court “was wrong on the law, and its decision has dangerous consequences for Texas children.”

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