SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers are considering a proposal that would strengthen state law to allow prosecutors to charge people who run online prostitution websites.

The push stems from a case in which two aging college professors were accused of helping run an online prostitution ring.

Just last week, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied a request from prosecutors to continue pursuing the case against former University of New Mexico president F. Chris Garcia and retired Fairleigh Dickinson University physics professor David C. Flory. The court ruled that nothing in state law made the professors' website illegal.

Experts have said that decades-old laws in New Mexico and other states make it difficult for authorities and prosecutors to go after prostitution-linked websites because the laws don't necessarily outlaw the practice in cyberspace. Most states' laws only address street prostitution and brothels, they said.

Rep. Tim Lewis, R-Rio Rancho, said his bill aims to close the loophole. It would add language making the promotion of prostitution using "an electronic, virtual or online forum or an Internet website" illegal.

The bill is scheduled to be heard Tuesday afternoon by the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee.


Advertisement

The professors were arrested by Albuquerque police in June 2011 on charges of promoting prostitution after a yearlong police investigation into an alleged multistate operation in which prostitutes and patrons could meet.

A lower court ruled in favor of Garcia and Flory last summer, saying that an online message board could not be considered a house of prostitution under state law.

Following the ruling, Gov. Susan Martinez said that state laws aimed at fighting prostitution needed to be updated to help authorities go after online prostitution sites.