Bill would make ‘revenge porn’ a crime

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut is among the nearly two dozen states looking to criminalize what’s called “revenge porn,” which happens when intimate videos never intended for public consumption are used to intimidate a former partner after a relationship has soured.

The bill has now passed unanimously in the state Senate and is headed to the House.

People who electronically distribute intimate videos in an effort to embarrass, harass, or otherwise intimidate a former sex partner could be subject to a $2,000 fine and a year in prison.

Lawmakers heard some frightening statistics from those involved in sexual assault crisis services.

“Ten percent of ex-relationships with at least a threat of exposing images online and that 60 percent of those actually followed through,” said Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, a Democrat representing Meriden.

And the statistics say that in 50 percent of the cases where the treat was followed through, the individual reported being harassed and even stalked as a result of the images being made public.

Republican state Rep. Themis Klaridis, who is also a lawyer, authored the state’s anti-voyeurism law in 1999 which carries a much tougher penalty.

Before she became a lawyer, she was an underwear and swimsuit model and was harassed by a political opponent with some of those photos when she first ran for office.

She thinks the revenge porn bill needs clarification.

“I’m concerned that either the police or the prosecutors will somehow get the elements confused and somebody will end up getting a lesser penalty than they otherwise would,” said Karides.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut says the law as written is unconstitutional.

“The law, as written, doesn’t address the question of whether there was or wasn’t an agreement or understanding to keep these images private and it doesn’t address the question of who’s doing the distributing,” said Sandra Staub.

The ACLU says that would mean YouTube or any other video posting service could be prosecuted. They say a change in language could make this a workable law. But the changes have to be made fast as the General Assembly session ends at midnight next Wednesday.

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