More than 40 lawmakers sign on to bill criminalizing “revenge porn”
February 26, 2015
Augusta – This morning, House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport was joined by fellow lawmakers to announce a bipartisan effort to fight back against the disturbing trend known as “non-consensual porn” or “revenge porn.” With the introduction of LR 326: “An Act To Prohibit The Unauthorized Distribution of Certain Private Images, Maine joins the growing list of states who are fighting back against this disturbing trend.
More and more people are finding their intimate photographs and/or videos disseminated online without their consent with at least 3,000 active websites devoted to this practice. Many of them force victims to pay hundreds of dollars in order to have their images removed. This disturbing trend is now on the rise here in Maine, where the majority of the victims are women. Victims are publicly humiliated to the point where some of them are moving out of areas they have lived in their whole lives and in extreme cases, some are even committing suicide.
In many cases these images are posted in an effort to exact revenge on a former girlfriend, boyfriend, wife or husband. In other instances, these videos and images are used as threatening leverage to keep victims trapped in an abusive relationship.
“This is a despicable act that mostly targets women,” said Rep. Fredette. “In states like Maine, where there are no laws on the books to punish those responsible, these victims have nowhere to turn. This is not acceptable and should not be tolerated.”
Senate Majority Leader, Dawn Hill (D) York, has stepped up as the lead Senate Democratic cosponsor.
“The practice of non-consensual pornography has no place in Maine. Victims of this despicable act serve a life sentence of humiliation and shame while those responsible are currently going unpunished. It’s time for Maine to join the other states who are putting a stop to this,” Sen. Hill said.
Rep. Diane Russell (D) Portland has also joined the fight as the lead House Democratic cosponsor.
“We are already aware of one Maine woman trapped in an abusive marriage. Her husband recorded their intimate relations without her knowledge and is threating to release it if she leaves him. We are going to fix that with this bill. We are going to make it safe for her – and so many others like her – to leave,” said Rep. Russell.
Domestic violence and sexual assault prevention advocates have also taken an active role in the process. Julia Colpitts of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence worked closely with Rep. Fredette in crafting this legislation. The Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault is already helping victims of nonconsensual pornography and they too have endorsed this initiative calling it “long overdue.”
16 states now have laws on the books criminalizing revenge porn. Most recently, Arizona and Illinois passed legislation making it a felony.
Rep. Fredette’s bill is expected to be printed and assigned to committee in the coming weeks. Attached is a copy of the bill language.