November 23, 2019
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‘We are coming for you’: Bill would criminalize revenge porn in Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine — A bipartisan group of lawmakers urged support Thursday for a bill that seeks to outlaw online posting of revenge porn.

Revenge porn, which also is known as nonconsensual pornography, is when someone distributes explicit images or video of another person without that person’s consent.

According to House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, the lead sponsor of An Act to Prohibit the Unauthorized Distribution of Certain Private Images, there are thousands of websites that specialize in revenge porn and some of them charge victims hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove explicit material.

“This is a despicable act that mostly targets women,” said Fredette during a news conference Thursday at the State House. “In states like Maine where there are not laws on the books, these victims have nowhere to turn. This is not acceptable, nor should it be tolerated.”

Fredette’s bill, which has nearly four dozen co-sponsors, would make the intentional distribution of explicit material illegal if the person in the material is identifiable and has not consented to its distribution. A violation of the law would be a Class D crime punishable by a $2,000 fine and a year in jail.

The bill is not written yet but is expected to be released to the Legislature in the coming weeks.

In addition to violating a person’s privacy, revenge porn can be devastating to a person applying for a job, trying to enroll in school or maintaining family relationships.

Fredette said 16 states have already passed revenge porn laws — some of which make it a felony — and another 13 states have measures in the works.

One of the early supporters of Fredette’s bill is Democratic Sen. Dawn Hill of Cape Neddick.

“Revenge porn is a new term for many of us, but it’s becoming increasingly more prevalent,” she said. “This bill is in response to this new way of life, and it’s a first step in protecting both men and women from having their lives ruined.”

Cara Courchesne of the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault cited a Cyber Civil Rights Institute survey indicating that nationally, 59 percent of revenge porn victims have their full names posted; 26 percent have their email address posted; 16 percent had their home address posted and 14 percent had their work address posted.

Rep Diane Russell, D-Portland, said this bill is among the more important the Legislature will consider this year.

“Revenge porn is an unacceptable, unconscionable and unforgivable act and when we are done this legislative session, it will also be a criminal act,” said Russell. “Make no mistake: if you are a victim, we have your back. And if you are a perpetrator, we are coming for you.”

If you are a victim of revenge porn, resources are available to protect you, even before the passage of this bill. For more information, call the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence at 1-866-834-4357 or the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault at 1-800-871-7741.

 



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