Jan 11, 12:43 PM EST

AP FACT CHECK: Child prostitution not legal in California


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- A widely shared story that claims California has legalized child prostitution is false.

The story shared by theredelephants.com is headlined "California Democrats Legalize Child Prostitution." It and similar stories shared by other conservative outlets is based on a false column written by a Republican state lawmaker for the Washington Examiner in opposition to California Senate Bill 1322.

Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, wrote that "beginning on Jan. 1, prostitution by minors will be legal in California. Yes, you read that right." He repeated the claim in a subsequent appearance on Fox News.

The bill, which was signed by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown in September and became law on Jan. 1, decriminalizes prostitution for minors. Minors cannot be arrested for the act, but can be taken into temporary custody. It's billed as an effort to help stop the criminalization of commercially sexually exploited children. Supporters argued children should not be charged with the crime, as minors are unable to legally consent to sexual intercourse.

Soliciting an underage person for sex remains a crime in California, as does arranging a sexual act for a minor.

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This story is part of an ongoing AP effort to fact-check claims in suspected false news stories.

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