.

Bill Would Outlaw 'Revenge Porn' in Virginia

Bill would ban sharing nude or sexually explicit photos to harass or hurt someone.

A bill in the Virginia House of Delegates would outlaw 'revenge porn' in this state. Photo: Getty Images / Imperial Beach (Calif.) Patch
A bill in the Virginia House of Delegates would outlaw 'revenge porn' in this state. Photo: Getty Images / Imperial Beach (Calif.) Patch

A bill headed for the Virginia House of Delegates would outlaw so-called "revenge porn" as the Legislature joins a growing list of state governments seeking to curtail "substantial emotional distress" from explicit photos and videos.

So far, only New Jersey and California have outlawed the practice. But lawmakers in Maryland, Florida, Wisconsin, New York and Texas are now considering the matter, and at least three others may follow suit, according to Politico.

House Bill 49, pre-filed on Tuesday, would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor for anyone in Virginia to share or sell nude or sexually explicit photos or videos of another person with the intent to cause "substantial emotional distress."

Conviction would carry a penalty of up to a year in jail, up to a $2,500 fine, or both.

"It's probably enough to get somebody who is feeling hurt or vindictive to think twice about it," state Del.-elect Marcus Simon, who filed the bill, told Patch. Simon's district includes much of Falls Church, along with the Pimmit Hills and Merrifield areas of Fairfax County.

The idea is to curb the use of images or videos taken during a romantic relationship to harass someone after the relationship has ended, particularly online. The practice is sometimes defended as speech protected by the First Amendment.

Specifically, Simon's bill would prohibit someone from disseminating or selling "any videotape, photograph, film, or other videographic or still image created by any means, or any reproduction of such videotape, photograph, film, or image, that depicts another person who is totally nude, in a state of undress so as to expose the genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast, or engaged in sexual conduct…"

Certain revenge porn websites invite exes to upload those images. Posts can include personal information like someone's address or links to their social media accounts, Simon said.

"It's a problem here in Virginia," he said.

Simon said his bill isn't designed to punish someone who carelessly publishes explicit images. The key to the law is proving intent.

Simon, a Democrat, was elected in November and will succeed retiring Del. Jim Scott.

Do you know someone who has been the victim of revenge porn? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Eric Jeffrey December 03, 2013 at 01:45 PM
Ignoring that most of it would not legally qualify as porn -- this begs the issue why the focus is on sexually-oriented pictures. From a practical standpoint, releases of other pictures might be much more embarrasing or harmful, as might release of personal information without a sexually-charged photo (e.g., it could easily lead to identity theft). If the issue to be addressed is revenge, why not focus on that, rather than sex.
Gilbert R Albright Jr December 04, 2013 at 12:40 PM
"with the intent to cause "substantial emotional distress." Simon said his bill isn't designed to punish someone who carelessly publishes explicit images. The key to the law is proving intent. SOOO! The state or the person filing suit will STILL have to prove malicious intent to get a conviction.
ray December 04, 2013 at 06:14 PM
I personally resent using tax-payer money to protect stupid people and prevent other people or realizing just how stupid they are. The sponsors of these bills were probably victims themselves. After all, they're politicians and you can't get much lower than that, unless you're also a lawyer.
Kelsi Most December 09, 2013 at 05:11 PM
Good point
Jason Elliott January 08, 2014 at 02:11 PM
Personally, I think this is a great life lesson. You do something stupid, you pay the consequences. I am sick and tired of laws that are designed to protect idiots from themselves. If you are dumb enough to give someone something they can use against you when / if the relationship ends and they get hurt, then you deserve what you get.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something