State lawmakers look at online prostitution bill

Posted at: 02/12/2013 6:53 PM
Updated at: 02/12/2013 6:54 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A legal crackdown on internet prostitution has cleared its first committee at the state legislature.

The House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee has given a "do pass" recommendation to the legislation that was drawn up in the wake of the notorious prostitution case involving a UNM professor accused of running on online sex-for-hire service.

Just last week the State Supreme Court threw out the case against Prof. Chris Garcia and another professor from New Jersey, agreeing with Albuquerque Judge Stan Whitaker that under current state law a website is not a house of prostitution. The "Burque Pops" bill, named in honor of Garcia's online nickname, has gained momentum since the collapse of the case. The bill is designed to bring that old state law up to date.

"We have an antiquated law," said Rep. Tim Lewis, a Rio Rancho Republican who is sponsoring the bill. "It's more than 30 years old and so that's what we really need to fix. We probably need to go back and look at some other things because of the advancement of the internet and what you can do on it. We really need to take a hard look at that as a legislative body."

"There's a lot of issues and loose ends," said Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, an Albuquerque Democrat. "What happens to the person who's just surfing the internet and just clicks on the wrong spot? How do you monitor people who are using these types of sites?"

The committee amended the bill Tuesday night to try to take care of some of Rep. Caballero's concerns. It now moves on to the House Judiciary Committee.

If the "Burque Pops" bill passes it won't have any effect on "Burque Pops" himself. The case against Prof. Garcia appears to be dead in the water.