FRANKFORT — Intentionally viewing child pornography would be a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, under a bill that the state House Judiciary Committee approved unanimously Wednesday.
The sponsor of House Bill 126, Rep. Kevin Sinnette, D-Ashland, said he had thought it already was illegal to view child porn until a police officer in his community told him a law was needed.
It has long been illegal to possess child porn, but most possession laws were written before the advent of the Internet, where much viewing of child porn occurs, Sinnette said.
The committee amended his bill to make it clear that inadvertent viewing of child porn would not be a crime.
The amendment said the crime "shall only apply to the deliberate, purposeful and voluntary viewing of matter depicting sexual conduct by a minor person and not to the accidental or inadvertent viewing of such a matter."
It also said the crime would not apply to people viewing child porn in a law enforcement investigation.
Sinnette said nine other states have adopted such a law.
Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, asked how such viewing could be proved in a court of law.
Morgain Sprague, general counsel for the Kentucky State Police, said the burden of proof would be on law enforcement officials, who would have to conduct a forensic evaluation of the computer used to view the material.
The bill now goes to the full House for its consideration. Sinnette said he was not aware of any opposition to it in the House or Senate.
The House Judiciary Committee also unanimously approved a bill that would broaden the definition of incestuous relationships to include step-grandparents and step-grandchildren.
The law now defines incest as when a person has sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with an ancestor, descendant, brother or sister, or stepparent and stepchild.
The sponsor of House Bill 74, Rep. Linda Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, said she would work with Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Louisville, on a possible amendment on the House floor that would include aunts and uncles in the prohibited relationships.