The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously voted Tuesday to criminalize so-called “revenge porn.”
The bill would make it illegal for intimate or former intimate partners to post photos or videos identifying another person who is naked or engaged in a sexual act, without that person’s consent. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Judy Schwank, a Berks County Democrat, would not cover photos posted with a person’s consent.
The bill would create a new crime. Intimate Partner Harassment would carry a penalty of up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine in cases involving victims who are minors, and up to 2 years and $5,000 when the victim is an adult.
The proposal will now head to the House.
Here is the current bill:
Amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in assault, providing for the offense of intimate partner harassment.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated
7Statutes is amended by adding a section to read:
§ 2709.2. Intimate partner harassment.
(a) Offense defined.–A person commits the crime of intimate
partner harassment by exposing a photograph, film, videotape or
similar recording of the identifiable image of an intimate
partner who is nude or explicitly engaged in a sexual act to the
view of a third party for no legitimate purpose and with the
intent to harass, annoy or alarm the person depicted.
(b) Affirmative defense.–It shall not be an offense under
this section for a person to expose an image with the consent of
the person depicted.
(c) Grading.–An offense under this section shall be:
(1) A misdemeanor of the first degree when the person depicted is a minor.
(2) A misdemeanor of the <-third second degree when the person depicted is not a minor.
(d) Applicability.–This section shall not apply to any
activity described in section 6321 (relating to transmission of
sexually explicit images by minor).
(e) Definition.–As used in this section, the term
“nude” shall have the meaning provided under section 5903(b)
(relating to obscene and other sexual materials and
Section 2. This act shall take effect in 60 days.
This bill raises serious concerns about the type of conduct that is and is not criminal. Is the showing of a picture to another covered by the statute? What qualifies as intent to harras, annoy, or alarm? Can the “victim” retroactively change their mind and seek prosecution? Can the “victim” revoke consent at a later time? Where and when is the crime committed? Suppose a photo is posted online by phone from out of state? Or the picture is taken out of state?