State Reps. John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake) and Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) today announced the concurrent passage of House Bill 497, which prohibits the nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images, often referred to as “revenge porn,” by setting penalties to punish those who distribute sexually explicit images with the intent to harass the victim.


“The act of distributing intimate images often occurs as the result of a breakup in a relationship,” said Rogers. “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. Frequently, the image of the victim may include that person’s full name and contact information.


“The outcome of this conduct can cause a multitude of personal and professional issues, in addition to the humiliation and embarrassment a victim may feel when their most intimate, private exchanges are shared with the world,” said Rogers.


“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,” Manning said. 


The bill also received prominent support from Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and the nonprofit group Battling Against Demeaning and Abusive Selfie Sharing (BADASS), which is comprised of those who have personal experience with having intimate photographs and videos shared on the internet.


“I applaud my colleagues in the Senate for taking action on this legislation before we ran out of time this General Assembly,” said Senator Schiavoni. “It is about time that victims of revenge porn have legal recourse against those who distribute private sexual images without consent.”


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.

 
 
 
  
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