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Missouri Senate passes cyber harassment bill

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Megan Meier

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri Senate has passed a bill designed to protect children from being harassed or stalked online.

Under the bill, an adult who harasses a child via the Internet or other electronic media would face a felony charge. It was sponsored by State Senator Scott Rupp (R, Wentzville).

"If this is your second offense, we also raise that to a class D felony...so we're putting a little stronger of a penalty on top for those that are preying on the kids or who are repeat offenders," Rupp said.

The bill was prompted by the 2006 death of 13-year-old Megan Meier. The St. Charles County youth committed suicide after receiving cruel messages through a MySpace account.

"Our old laws would only recognize telephone and 'in writing' (threats)...when you have people communicating by text message or Internet or web pages or email, a lot of those weren't covered...our restrictions were too much on our definitions that we couldn't get convictions, or prosecutors wouldn't prosecute because of how the law was written," Rupp said.

The bill passed unanimously and now goes to the Missouri House.

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