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Teen sexting would be misdemeanor under bill

Sexting among teens could be reduced to a misdemeanor under a bill being considered by a House subcommittee.

Right now teens that send or receive explicit pictures via cell phones face felony child pornography charges and must register as a sex offender.

Rep. Jay Neal (R-LaFayette) says his bill would reduce that to a misdemeanor if the teens involved are within four years apart.

“What I don’t want us to do is make youthful stupidity a felony that will create a life-long barrier for these teenagers,” he told a group of members from the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

Neal tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish that details are still being worked out over pictures that are maliciously sent.

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News

  • Authorities are calling a woman’s death suspicious after she was found fully-clothed and faced down in a DeKalb County creek. She had also been shot, DeKalb County police spokeswoman Shiera Campbell said. A man walking on a trail saw the woman’s body in a creek on Fieldgreen Drive in Stone Mountain, Campbell said. The creek is near Redan High School.  The woman’s identity has not been released, but she is believed to be in her late 20s to early 30s, Campbell said.  Neighbors told Channel 2 Action News they heard gunshots in the night before, but thought nothing of it.  No other details were released.  In other news: [Summary]
  • Channel 2 Action News is learning more about an incident involving an Atlanta police officer. APD is investigating claims of excessive force after someone posted video on social media showing an officer punching a man while holding him down. The incident happened in downtown last Thursday. APD sent us the mugshot of Rickey Williams, the man who was getting arrested. Chief Erika Shields with the Atlanta Police Department said Tuesday, the officer seen punching the man, Identified as Officer Quinton Green, has been relieved of duty and is currently on administrative leave. Shields said she will review the evidence to determine the appropriate disciplinary action, if any. 'Chief Shields has always held professionalism and honesty in high regard and will continue to hold her officers to the highest standard,' the Atlanta Police Department said in a statement Wednesday. Check back with WSBTV.com and tune into Channel 2 Action News for updates on this story.
  • A woman carrying her two young sons arrived home from work around 3 a.m., May 12 to find two men had broken into her apartment.  The men shocked her with tasers, threw boiling water on her and raped her while her older son watched, a police report said. Police have arrested 17-year-old Francisco Palencia, 19-year-old Josue Ramirez and an unnamed 15-year-old female in connection with the assault. All three suspects have been charged with home invasion, rape, aggravated sodomy, kidnapping, aggravated battery and cruelty to children. More arrests are possible, a Gwinnett County Police Department spokesman said.  WATCH: Gwinnett police chase ends in 14 traffic, drug charges Gwinnett mom accused of drugging kids arrested in Tennessee Palencia and the 15-year-old were arrested Tuesday. Jail logs show Ramirez was booked on June 15. Palencia and Ramirez are being held without bond at the Gwinnett County Detention Center. Because the 15-year-old’s identity has not been disclosed, her bond status was not immediately clear. The men were wearing dark clothes and ski masks when the victim found them in the kitchen of her apartment in unincorporated Tucker. She tried to get away from them and protect her children, but one of the men threw two pots of boiling water on her, severely burning her shoulder, a police report said. The men shocked the victim with tasers and pushed her towards the bedroom. They forced her to perform oral sex before raping her on her bed, the police report said. The victim’s older son, who had followed her and the men into the bedroom, sat on the bed as his mother was raped, the report said. Police have not disclosed the age of the victim’s children. The 15-year-old suspect was not in the apartment during the assault, according to the police report. She is believed to have driven Palencia and Ramirez to the apartment, a police spokesman said.  When the men left the apartment, the victim found that the men cut a screen on her back porch and got into the home through an unlocked sliding glass door, according to police. The victim’s jewelry box, school ID and German shepherd puppy were missing from the apartment, the police report said.  The dog had been on the screened-in porch when the victim was at work. Police don’t know if it’s been found.  Like Gwinnett County News on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter and Instagram
  • An inmate was shot and killed Wednesday after authorities said he grabbed a deputy's gun and fired it at Nashville's 100 Oaks Mall, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news In a tweet around 2 p.m. local time, Vanderbilt University officials wrote that a shooting was reported at the 100 Oaks Mall campus of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
  • The Latest on Vatican Cardinal George Pell being charged with sex offenses in Australia (all times local): 9 a.m. The Vatican spokesman says Pope Francis has appreciated Cardinal George Pell's honesty and commitment during his three years working to reform the Vatican's finances. In a statement read to reporters Thursday, spokesman Greg Burke recalled that Pell has 'openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable' acts of sexual abuse against minors. He noted that Pell has cooperated with Australia's Royal Commission investigation into sex abuse and that as a bishop in Australia, worked to protect children and compensate victims. The statement said the Holy See had learned 'with regret' of the charges and that Francis had granted Pell a leave of absence to defend himself. ___ 8:30 a.m. Cardinal George Pell says he is taking a leave of absence as the Vatican's finance czar after Australian police charged him with multiple counts of 'historical' sexual assault. Pell appeared before reporters on Thursday to deny the accusations, denounce what he called a 'relentless character assassination' in the media and announce he would return to Australia to face the charges. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said Pope Francis had learned with 'regret' of the charges and had granted Pell a leave of absence to defend himself. He said the Vatican's financial reforms would continue in his absence. Pell has been summoned to appear in court in Australia's Victoria state next month.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in Hong Kong on Thursday to mark the 20th anniversary of Beijing taking control over the former British colony, accompanied by a formidable layer of security as authorities showed little patience for pro-democracy protests. Xi's Air China plane touched down at midday for a three-day visit, which culminates Saturday when Xi will oversee an inauguration ceremony for the Asian financial hub's new leader, Carrie Lam. Pro-democracy activists staged protests ahead of his visit and more were expected, including an annual march through the streets on Saturday that has drawn big crowds in the past. Hong Kong authorities were taking no chances with disruptions and deployed heavy security across the city. Helicopters hovered overhead and police and barricades lined the streets around a downtown convention center and hotel complex where Xi was expected to spend most of his time. Authorities even glued the gaps between sidewalk paving stones in an effort to prevent them from being torn up and thrown by protesters. Three pro-democracy groups said 26 of their members were arrested Wednesday evening on public nuisance charges for staging a sit-in at a giant flower sculpture near the complex. They were still being detained by the time Xi arrived, the groups said. Those arrested included Joshua Wong, the young activist who helped lead 2014's 'Umbrella Movement' protests, and Nathan Law, another student protest leader who was elected to the legislature last year. Xi is visiting to mark the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover, when Britain ceded control of its colony to China at the stroke of midnight on June 30, 1997. 'It's been nine years since I last set foot in this place. I'm thrilled,' Xi said on the airport tarmac. 'Hong Kong has been tugging away at my heart,' he said, adding that the anniversary of Hong Kong's 'return to the motherland' on Saturday is 'a big deal, a joyous occasion for the country and for Hong Kong.' He said one of the purposes of his trip is to plan for Hong Kong's future. 'We would like to look back at the 20 years of Hong Kong's extraordinary journey, learn from our experiences, and look forward to the future, to ensure the stable development of 'one country, two systems,'' he said in brief remarks before speeding off in a motorcade without answering questions. Under the 'one country, two systems' principle, China took control of Hong Kong while promising to let it keep civil liberties like freedom of speech and considerable autonomy from the mainland for 50 years. But a string of recent incidents, most notably the secret detention of five Hong Kong booksellers on the mainland, have stoked fears that Beijing is eroding that principle.