The Virginia state legislature on Saturday passed a law making tongue-kissing of children younger than 13 an offence punishable with up to one year imprisonment and a fine of $2500. Also the guilty would be registered as a sex offender.
The House of Delegates passed the legislation 96-1 and the Senate 39-0.
AdvertisementThe bill now heads to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who says he supports the legislation.
Delegate Riley Ingram, R-Hopewell, introduced the bill on behalf of a woman whose 10-year-old daughter was French-kissed by the 62-year-old husband of her babysitter.
The only crime prosecutors could charge the man with was contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which did not require that he register as a sex offender.
Ingram and other members of the House fought to make the crime a felony, but later gave in to senators who thought that classifying it as a felony was too harsh. Felony means serious crimes such as murders and carries stiff convictions.
Delegate Phillip Hamilton, R-Newport News, cast the lone nay vote, refusing to back down from his belief that the crime should be a felony.
"I think that type of behavior is so egregious it warrants a felony," Hamilton said.
Ingram said he was satisfied that a conviction would land someone on the sex offender registry.