Officials propose legislation to combat “revenge porn”
Legis. William Lindsay (D-Holbrook)

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Officials propose legislation to combat “revenge porn”

Story By: ANTHONY PERROTTA
9/13/2018


SUFFOLK COUNTY—Last week, Legis. William Lindsay (D-Holbrook) and other elected officials proposed legislation that would combat revenge porn, the sharing of intimate pictures and videos of another individual without consent. The local law would prohibit the sharing of such material in Suffolk County. 

“Cell phones, photographs and videos go hand-in-hand in this day and age,” Lindsay said. “It’s easy for a person to snap a photo and send an intimate image to a partner on their cell phone. Unfortunately, at a later time, the recipient could decide to maliciously share the image, without consent, to a third party.” 

Lindsay continued by saying that this act needs to have criminal and civil liabilities. “It’s time for Suffolk County to protect our residents from becoming potential victims of this crime,” he said. “This malicious act ruins lives and haunts victims throughout their personal and professional endeavors. I am hopeful this legislation will be signed into law in Suffolk County, and that individuals will think twice before wrongfully sharing an intimate photo or video.”

Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini pointed out there is no federal or state statute that prohibits or criminalizes the act of distributing someone else’s intimate images without their consent, which, according to Sini, makes this particular piece of legislation all the more important. 

Sini also said the legislation is just as much about providing help to victims as it is about prosecuting those that share the material without consent, adding that victims of revenge porn can reach out to his office at 631-853-5602 or email SCDAPhotoExtortion@suffolkcountyny.gov. When asked about the penalty for those convicted of sharing intimate content without consent, Sini said the proposed legislation carries up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. 

Legis. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood) called revenge porn a form of “extreme bullying,” which she has seen firsthand as an educator. “In this increasingly digital world, residents must be given the educational tools and resources necessary in making the best decisions in regards to online conduct. Furthermore, we must ensure individuals who abuse and manipulate the trust of others are held accountable for their actions,” she added. 

Laura Ahearn, executive director of The Crime Victim’s Center and Parents for Megan’s Law, said a single revenge porn posting could ruin a person’s reputation, affect their job and relationships, and subject them to harassment and online stalking. 

Ahearn estimates that, nationally, one in 25 people have been victimized or threatened by revenge porn. “Revenge porn victims often suffer severe emotional distress and long-lasting trauma because there [can’t] be a guarantee that image[s] won’t resurface,” Ahearn said. “Victims often cope with feelings of fear, anger, guilt, paranoia, depression, and sometimes even suicide, and are subjected to a lifetime of others questioning their integrity.” 

Nearly 40 states, along with the District of Columbia, have some sort of revenge porn laws, which are relatively new and, therefore, still developing. Penalties vary, sometimes drastically, depending on the state. 

When asked about the local law being passed, Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) said he sees “broad support” for the proposal on both sides of the political aisle. 

A public hearing on the proposed law will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 6:30 p.m. at the Suffolk County legislative offices in Hauppauge.