A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced a measure that calls for mandatory prison time for any child molester found guilty of using their position as a child care provider to sexually assault a child.

“The predators are getting smarter and smarter. They’re posing as caregivers, so we have to stay one step ahead of the predators,” said state Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman, R-Somerset.

He said he decided to sponsor the bill after learning an accused predator in Elizabeth had advertised himself online as a caregiver and then sexually assaulted a young girl he was babysitting.

“People go online, to sites like care.com to find caregivers for their children, and the sexual predators are trying to be one step in front of us and pose as caregivers.

The incident in Elizabeth took place shortly after a Burlington County man was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting two kids at a daycare facility he owned earlier this month.

Bateman pointed out his legislation calls for a minimum of five years behind bars with no possibility of parole for any predator who claims to be a childcare provider and then assaults a child.

“When you think that you’re leaving your children in the care of a caregiver only to find out it was a sexual predator, it’s a parent’s worst nightmare,” he said.

“We need to keep these individuals off the streets, and in jail, and hopefully this will deter individuals from continuing in this practice.”

He said if the punishment is a minimum of five years in prison, it sends an important message to sexual predators.

“This legislation will be incredibly important to deter this from happening again, this will be a significant jail time.’

He pointed out under current Jersey law, teachers and others with supervisory or disciplinary power over child would automatically face tougher penalties for child sex assaults. But people who represent themselves as child caregivers would not.

“We want them to know we’re one step ahead of them and if they’re caught and convicted they are absolutely going to jail and it’s not going to be a slap on the wrist.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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