Group seeks to toughen sex trafficking legislation

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HARTFORD — A group working to combat sex trafficking in Connecticut is focusing this year on legislation that would toughen penalties for the buyers.

A bill scheduled for a public hearing Monday before the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee would increase the penalty for patronizing a prostitute from a Class C to a Class B felony if the prostitute is not yet 18 or is considered a trafficking victim.

A class B felony is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. A Class C felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The Trafficking in Persons Council says it’s working to “place much-needed emphasis on demand” for sex.

The group also hopes to add more protections for victims. One bill would bar hotels from offering hourly rates to customers.