REVENGE PORN (H 4498)

By Bob Katzen

The House 154-0, approved and sent to the Senate a proposal that would prohibit the posting of sexually explicit images of another person online without their permission— commonly referred to as “revenge porn.” The practice is often used by ex-spouses or ex-partners. Massachusetts is one of only two states that does not have a law about this crime.

Another provision changes current law under which minors, under 18 years of age, who share explicit images of themselves or other minors can be charged with violating Massachusetts child pornography laws and are required to register with the Sex Offender Registry. The bill allows minors to be diverted to an educational program that would provide them with information about the consequences of posting or transmitting indecent visual depictions of minors.

“Under current law, when faced with an incident of sexting among teenagers, the police are forced with either charging them with a felony or doing nothing,” said sponsor Rep. Jeff Roy (D-Franklin). “The bill passed today provides law enforcement officers with a middle ground that will allow them to educate kids about the consequences of their actions without ruining their lives. It will have a tremendous impact on people who have become entangled in the web and transmittal of images that can cause traumatic and lifetime harm through a diversion program that will educate them about the legal and personal consequences of ‘sexting.’”

“This bill prioritizes survivors of revenge porn by unlocking resources for them while, at the same time, closing a loophole in our criminal harassment statute that will serve to deter and punish those who engage in these horrific acts,” said Rep. Mike Day (D-Stoneham), the House chair of the Judiciary Committee. “From providing access to victim witness advocates and direct input on criminal dispositions to enabling survivors to pursue civil remedies against their perpetrators, this approach will empower survivors to reclaim their lives in addition to providing clearly enforceable punitive measures for these crimes.”

“I’m proud the House today passed a bill consistent with our intent during criminal justice reform to provide intervention through diversion instead of incarceration for minors,” said House Speaker Ron Mariano (D-Quincy). “Additionally, the bill criminalizes image-based sexual assault by adults and affords victims of this crime protections, including the opportunity to get a harassment prevention order against their perpetrator.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the bill.)

Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven Yes

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