The state’s Legislative Council has approved a bill submitted by Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, that would increase penalties for acts of indecent exposure when victims are 12 and 13 years old.

The legislation is a response to an incident that occurred in Bath in July. Police allege 39-year-old Bath resident Jeremy Collier exposed himself and masturbated in front of two teenage girls, both under the age of 14. Collier has since been released on bail and has pleaded not guilty. Under bail conditions he is not allowed to have contact with persons under 16 years old.

Indecent exposure where the victim is under the age of 14 is a Class D crime — a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

Vitelli said she submitted the bill after the mother of the girl involved contacted her.

“Visual sexual aggression against a child is abhorrent, and the punishment for it must fit the crime,” said Vitelli in a statement.

Though the language for the bill has yet to be written, the legislation will make it a Class C crime to expose oneself to a person under the age of 14. Under current state law, it is a Class C crime to expose oneself to a person under the age of 12. Vitelli’s bill will also increase penalties for repeat offenders.

Class C crimes carry a maximum punishment of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Vitelli previously told The Times Record that she did not intend the bill to be the end of the discussion on preventing this type of behavior.

“This kind of behavior is not easy to change,” she said. “So I recognize that this is not a cure, if you will. This isn’t the magic bullet that’s going to solve this issue.

“But it seemed important, under the circumstances, to do something that would elevate this to a behavior that is more serious and is clearly not going to be tolerated,” Vitelli added.

With the Legislative Council’s approval, the bill will now be drafted and considered in the Legislature’s second session, which begins Jan. 3, 2018.

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