West Virginia Bill Seeks to Hold Librarians Criminally Liable for Allowing Children Access to Obscene Books

A West Virginia bill seeks to hold librarians criminally liable for allowing children to access obscene books.

House Bill 4654 was passed by the West Virginia House of Delegates last week with a vote of 85-12.

The bill will now move to the state Senate for consideration.

Bill sponsor Del. Brandon Steele gave a fiery speech before members of the House Committee on the Judiciary on Monday, during which he reportedly said libraries were “the sanctuary for pedophilia” and that people need to be held accountable for exposing children to adult content.

“I’m voting to protect children from being groomed and targeted by pedophiles and get rid of the sanctuary that was set up in our code 25 years ago,” Steele said.

“What this bill does is remove an exemption from an existing crime,” Steele said. “What no one seems to want to talk about in here is that this is a crime everywhere except the public library or a school or a museum.”

Under the current law, schools, public libraries, and museums are exempt from laws protecting minors from obscene materials.

“What I hope the chilling effect of this legislation is is to remove the sanctuary for pedophilia that exists in our code,” Steele said. “I’m taking a vote to protect children from being groomed and targeted by pedophiles … and putting everyone in the same playing field. If it is a crime in the parking lot, it’s a crime in the building. Period.”

The Los Angeles Blade reports, “According to State Code 61-8A-2, any adult who knowingly and intentionally displays obscene matter to a minor could be charged with a felony, fined up to $25,000 and face up to five years in prison if convicted.”

The legislation is likely to make it through the Senate and be signed into law in the deep red state.

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