New state law to address some issues from failed amendment
Published 3:40 pm Friday, November 10, 2023
After Albemarle City Council voted 4-3 on Monday to reject a proposed text amendment to its ordinance on sexually oriented businesses, North Carolina 67th House District Rep. Wayne Sasser spoke to City Council and citizens gathered at City Hall regarding a newly-signed state bill.
“The North Carolina Legislature has just passed Senate Bill 579, and it has been signed by Gov. Roy Cooper,” said Sasser.
“The short title of this bill is ‘Prevent Harm to Children’,” he added. “The legislature has been in sort of the same bind you have been in, and has been addressing this issue for the last year or so. It somewhat addresses the matters that the resolution you just voted down addresses.”
Sasser cited two general statutes (GS 14-190.1: Obscene Literature and Exhibitions, and GS 14-202.1: Taking Indecent Liberties with Children), both of which are addressed under the new law.
“One of the things that I thought was more relevant in this bill, is it addresses live adult entertainment and not just obscenity, so it combines both those general statutes in this bill,” said Sasser. “It just simply does not allow minors under the age of 18 to be exposed to anything (of that nature).
“The obscenity part, if you read the statute, is more about films, pictures and that type of stuff. The live adult entertainment is more about what you (City Council) were talking about, although the statute does not specifically identify all that you were dealing with.”
Sasser advised those in attendance that the bill would become law in less than a month.
“Basically, what I’m saying is that come Dec. 1, whether you all choose to revisit this matter or not, it will become North Carolina state law, and if it happens in the city limits of Albemarle and somebody files a complaint, then you will have to deal with it at that time.”
The law includes the following language:
“Amends GS 14-190.1 to make it illegal for a person age 18 or older (was, any person) to: (1) intentionally disseminate obscenity; (2) knowingly and intentionally create, buy, procure, or possess obscene material with the purpose and intent of disseminating it unlawfully; and (3) advertise or otherwise promote the sale of material represented or held out by that person as obscene. Makes it a Class H felony (instead of Class I) for any person to knowingly violate this statute in the presence of a minor under age 18.
“Amends GS 14-190.6 by increasing the penalty from a Class I felony to a Class H felony for a person age 18 or older to intentionally hire, employ, use or permit any minor under the age of 16 years to do or assist in doing any act or thing constituting an offense under Article 26 (Offenses Against Public Morality and Decency) and involving any material, act, or thing they know or reasonably should know to be obscene.
“Amends GS 14-190.7 by increasing the penalty from a Class I felony to Class H felony for a person age 18 or older who knowingly disseminates to any minor under the age of 16 years any material which they know or reasonably should know to be obscene.
“Amends GS 14-190.8 by increasing from a Class I to a Class G felony for a person age 18 years or older to knowingly disseminate to any minor under the age of 13 years any material which they know or reasonably should know to be obscene.
“Amends GS 14-190.9 as follows. Makes it a Class H felony for any person at least age 18 to willfully expose the private parts of his or her person in any public place in the presence of a minor as defined in GS 14-190.13 (was, in the presence of any other person less than 16 years of age) for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire. Makes it a Class 2 misdemeanor for a person at least 18 years of age to willfully expose the private parts of his or her person in a private residence of which they are not a resident and in the presence of a minor as defined in GS 14-190.13 (was, in the presence of any other person less than 16 years) who is a resident of that private residence. GS 14-190.13 defines a minor as an individual who is less than 18 years old and is not married or judicially emancipated.”
It applies to offenses committed on or after Dec. 1.
Toby Thorpe is a freelance writer for The Stanly News & Press.