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Lorenz Cracks Down on Sextortion with New Bill

May 10, 2024
Brian Lorenz News

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COLUMBUS— State Representative Brian Lorenz (R-Powell) has introduced new legislation to establish sexual extortion as a crime in Ohio.

Sexual extortion, or sextortion, is the act of coercing someone to share sexually explicit images of themselves, either through text or webcam, then threatening to release the images to the public unless the victim pays the perpetrator not to. Sextortion predators usually target a person who is younger than 18 to victimize. 

Lorenz’s legislation, entitled Braden’s Law, stems from a victim of sextortion in his district who took his own life. Braden Markus was an Olentangy High School student that was contacted by an individual on social media who sent him lewd pictures posing as a 15-year-old girl. Braden was requested to send the same inappropriate photos in exchange. After the individual convinced Braden to send a photo back, he immediately demanded $1,800 and threatened to release the photo on social media if Braden did not send him money. Braden took his life only 27 minutes after contacted by the sextortionist.

“This is truly a tragedy,” Lorenz said. “Braden was a bright student that was manipulated and pushed to the point where he felt he had no other option but to end his life. We can never let something like this happen again in Ohio and we must make sexual extortionist think twice before committing this crime in our state.”

Braden’s Law will make the act of sextortion a crime and will allow a parent or guardian to gain access to a phone or device belonging to a deceased minor through the Court of Common Pleas within 30 days. This legislation will also provide immunity to a victim of sexual extortion for sending sexually explicit images and to telecommunication carriers. The bill will also include compensation to victims of this crime. 

The legislation hasn’t been assigned a bill number or to a House committee.