Ohio legislature passes bill to make revenge porn illegal

Local News
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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A bill to outlaw ‘revenge porn’ is headed to Governor John Kasich’s desk after being passed by both chambers of the Ohio legislature.

House Bill 497 prohibits nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images and sets penalties for those who distribute sexually explicit images with the intent to harass the victim.

The bill classifies the first offense as a third-degree misdemeanor. The second offense is a second-degree misdemeanor. A third offense of a first-degree misdemeanor.

“The act of distributing intimate images often occurs as the result of a breakup in a relationship,” said HB 497 sponsor John Rogers  (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake). “When a relationship ends on a sour note, one party may react with vengeance and decide to publish or post personal images of their former significant other on social media or to friends and family members with the intent of harming their former partner.”

According to Rogers, once maliciously posted by someone, the image can spread like wildfire across the internet.

“This important legislation will make needed changes to our civil and criminal code to provide victims of image-based violence the resources to fight back and also deter others from being victims in the future,” said Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville). 

The bill also received support from the nonprofit group Battling Against Demeaning and Abusive Selfie Sharing, which is comprised of those who have personal experience with having intimate photographs and videos shared on the internet.

The group was started by Katelyn Bowden, who was a victim of revenge porn.

“You are shamed into silence,” Bowden said. “If you tell people, you are just drawing more attention to the photos and having people judge you.”

In addition to penalties, the bill also creates certain legal rights and protections to a victim of the offense, including preventing an institution of higher learning from withholding financial assistance on the grounds that a student was a victim of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images, and also prevents such institutions from disciplining that student for the same reason. The bill extends these protections to licensing authorities, preventing them from refusing to license or to renew a license for victims.

The bill will now goes to the governor’s desk for approval. If signed, it will become effective 90 days later.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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