Senate majority leader under fire for bill that reduces punishment for child porn production

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment is facing some criticism after introducing a bill that would reduce the current penalties for the production of child porn.

“I think sometimes the public thinks child pornography is pictures of babies in bathtubs. That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking bondage, sadomasochism in horrible crimes committed to children,” Louisa County Commonwealth’s attorney Rusty McGuire told 8News.

Currently, Senate Bill 1560, introduced by Norment, would decrease the mandatory minimum imprisonment for producing child porn from five years to two and the maximum from 30 years to 20. Norment says he got the idea from prosecutors.

“The bill was brought to my attention by some commonwealth attorneys. They thought some things were a little out of line,” Norment said.

“This is something I absolutely would not want,” McGuire argued.

McGuire has worked on cases involving child porn for over 10 years. He says he doesn’t understand why any prosecutor would want to make penalties more lenient.

“Virginia’s known as one of the best states at protecting children from exploitation and so we’re at where it should be and we should not go backwards,” McGuire said.

“There are some victims out there and some families of victims who think that when a sexual offense is committed or you have a violent sexual predator they should be locked up for life and then you’ve got other people who believe more in grace and redemption,” said Norment.

Norment is under fire from advocates accusing him of introducing the bill out of self-interest. The National Association to Protect Children sent us this statement:

“The National Association to Protect Children has serious concerns about Senator Norment’s bill. It appears to benefit his sex offender clients, but not the children he has a duty to protect across the commonwealth as Senate Majority Leader.”

Back in October 2015 Norment was part of the team arguing for a more lenient sentence for former Virginia Tech professor Arthur William Jones who was found guilty of multiple sex charges with a minor. In response to claims that the bill is aimed at protecting his clients Norment had this to say;

“That’s absolute poppy cock and it has nothing to do with my practice. In fact i take exception, umbrage at that. That’s very disingenuous by some people who are just trying to attract some attention without regard to the factual basis of it,” said Norment.

The bill was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on Wednesday but was passed by for the day. It could come up for a vote next week. Stay with 8News for updates.

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