The first edition of HB 933 included a minimum sentence of 25 years to life for an adult who molests (gropes/fondles) a child under the age of 12. This piece of the legislation, which is the most costly, was removed in the second edition of the bill.
In North Carolina, the most common crime for which an offender is required to register as a sex offender is “indecent liberties with a child,” which covers the molestation (sexual touching/groping short of assault) of children under the age of 16. The same crime applies to offenders who fondle preschoolers and those who grope fifteen-year-olds.
A national study shows that 34 percent of all reported sexual assault victims are under the age of 12 and half of the reported victims of “forcible fondling” are under the age of 12. Aside from 13-year-olds, 4-year-olds make up the largest group of victims of forcible fondling. Children are most likely to be assaulted by a family member or acquaintance. (U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics, July 2000.)