"What he did is wrong," said Collins, who also has a 24-year-old daughter and two grandchildren. "But taking pictures of our kids. There's nothing wrong [with] this."
Johnson said he's open to possibly amending the bill to allow registered sex offenders to obtain written permission to take pictures of relatives. But Johnson is reluctant to make an exception, noting that it's often relatives who molest children. "There may be some people who don't want the dirty old uncle taking pictures of their daughter," Johnson said. "So there may be written permission or some sort of evidence they have permission."
Lewis said she would oppose an exception even for family members, arguing that sex offenders sometimes use photography to gain a familiar child's trust.
Lewis' daughter, who is 17, quit her job in part because of the photo incident last summer. Lewis said the man and a teenage boy arrived at the shop in a van with no windows. The man was taking pictures using his cellphone and transmitting them to friends. "He would say 'This is my girlfriend, isn't she beautiful?' " Lewis said.
The man left but later returned. Lewis' daughter felt uncomfortable and called Lewis, who immediately showed up to confront the man. He left, but Lewis took down his tag number and called police.
Even if the bill passes, it may also have to overcome some First Amendment issues.
"It's constitutionally suspect," said Maggie Garrett, legislative director for the ACLU of Georgia. "There are Supreme Court cases that people have the right to take photographs."
Garrett said the bill doesn't just target people who have committed crimes against children. It could ensnare so-called "Romeo and Juliet" sex offenders, teens who have consensual sexual relationships with underage partners and are sometimes separated only by two years.
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