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Revenge porn: Pennsylvania Sen. Judy Schwank proposes law against it

By 69 News, follow: @69news, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 11 2013 12:07:22 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 11 2013 04:58:33 PM CST

Pennsylvania Sen. Judy Schwank has introduced legislation that would make online posting of naked or sexually explicit images of former intimate partners, often referred to as "revenge porn," a crime in Pennsylvania.

HARRISBURG, Pa. -

Pennsylvania Sen. Judy Schwank introduced Wednesday legislation that would make online posting of naked or sexually explicit images of former intimate partners, often referred to as "revenge porn," a crime in Pennsylvania.

The bill would make the offense a third-degree felony if the victim is a minor, carrying a penalty of up to seven years in prison. 

Otherwise, the crime would be a second-degree misdemeanor and carry a penalty of up to two years in prison. Fines could also be imposed.

"This is a growing problem around the country that has caused serious problems for its victims," said Schwank, a Berks County Democrat. "We need to stop it, and to do that, we need to make sure Pennsylvania officials have the tools to prosecute it."

So far, California and New Jersey are the only other states to have adopted laws making it a crime, although they take significantly different approaches, Schwank said. 

A number of other states, including New York and Delaware, also are in the process of considering laws.

Under Schwank’s proposal, a person would break the law by revealing a picture or video of an intimate partner to a third party for no legitimate purpose and with the intent to harass, annoy or alarm the person depicted. The picture or video, Schwank said, must be of a person who is nude or engaged in a sexual act.

"This is a new form of abuse. It can hurt the victims and their families, and it can even affect their employers," said Schwank, adding that it would not be a crime if the depicted person consents to the release of the photo or video.

Schwank said her proposal has the support of the Pennsylvania District Attorney Association, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, which played a role in its development.

The Pennsylvania chapter of the ACLU also worked with Schwank and is neutral on the bill, agreeing that it does not present First Amendment issues that have troubled other states’ proposals, she said.