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Child-exploitation prevention in Virginia gets funds

Extra money generated by ‘Alicia’s Law’

- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2012

RICHMOND — The Virginia House voted Thursday to move hundreds of thousands of dollars to a fund devoted to combating child pornography and child exploitation in the state.

"Alicia's Law," passed in 2010, imposed a $10 fee for every criminal conviction in the state to fund the state's Internet Crimes Against Children task forces and law enforcement efforts. The state has two Internet Crimes Against Children task forces in Northern and Southern Virginia.

But the revenue generated by the law has exceeded a $1.8 million projection by about $650,000 annually. Under the current language, any surplus was to be funneled to the general fund, which pays for items such as education and health care.

The law's namesake, Alicia Kozakiewicz, made an appearance at the Capitol on Thursday to make a personal appeal that the funding be used to fight child exploitation. When she was 13, Ms. Kozakiewicz was abducted outside her Pittsburgh home and raped by a Virginia man she met in an online chat room.

Earlier in the week, Ms. Kozakiewicz contacted former Virginia Delegate Brian Moran, now chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, who developed a friendship with her when he introduced the original iteration of the law in 2008.

Mr. Moran asked Delegate Mark D. Sickles, Fairfax Democrat, to introduce an amendment to redirect the money when the budget was taken up on the House floor Thursday.

"At this moment, Virginia State Police have the capability to identify and locate thousands of computers across Virginia that are being used to traffic in child pornography, and to arrest the people behind these horrible crimes,"Mr. Moran said.

The funds have already been included in the Senate's version of the budget.

"It would be an understatement to say that the money dedicated for this purpose is going to an extremely important one," said Delegate C. Todd Gilbert, Shenandoah Republican.

The amendment was agreed to unanimously by the House, which passed its full budget, with amendments, on a 79-21 vote.

"When the General Assembly set up this program in 2010 it created a direct fee to fund it," Mr. Sickles said. "We need to keep faith with our citizens that when we start a new program we will not divert that funding."

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