Earlier this week, Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed a bill to protect kids from adults who may be 'grooming' them for sexual exploitation, accompanied by Missoula Legislator Kimberly Dudik and Missoula City Police Detective Katie Peterson.

House Bill 247 helped to expand sexual abuse of children laws.

“That bill is aimed at stopping the behavior called ‘grooming’,” Dudik said. “That’s when adults target children and expose them to sexual materials, be they pornography, videos or magazines. It’s intended to lower children’s inhibitions before somebody actually sexually assaults the child.”

Detective Peterson expanded on the bill.

“The bill makes it a felony to sexually touch yourself in front of a child, and to make a child watch pornography,” Peterson said. “However, we are careful to not criminalize sexual education or any sort of accidental viewing of pornography or someone touching themselves.”

Peterson explained why legislators revised the statute of limitations.

“This was previously covered under the obscenity or indecent exposure law with a one-year statute of limitations, but, what we know about children is that they may not disclose for quite awhile, so unless we caught this quick, we were unable to move forward.”

Peterson works with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. When asked if there was any opposition to the bill, Peterson replied, ‘absolutely none’.