Bill to criminalize 'revenge porn' passes in the House of Delegates

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A bill that would make cyber sexual harassment, or “revenge porn” a crime was passed in the House of Delegates following a 130-0 vote Friday in Annapolis.

The bill, sponsored by Dels. Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore County) and Luiz Simmons (D-Montgomery County), makes posting sexually explicit images of another without their consent a misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.

In order to be guilty of this crime, a defendant must intentionally cause their victim serious emotional distress by placing sexually explicit images of them on the Internet without their consent.

In addition, criminal charges can apply regardless of whether the victim or the perpetrator took the images unlike cyber sexual harassment laws in other states that only criminalize pictures taken by the victims also known as "selfies."

Cardin, who is running for Maryland attorney general, said revenge porn victims are impacted emotionally and could have their employment status and reputation negatively impacted. Cardin said many victims have been denied help because no crime had been committed.

"This law will allow our law enforcement officials to stay one step ahead and to intervene in non-consensual pornography before anyone is forced to carry the emotional scars of sexual harassment for the rest of their life,” said Cardin in a statement “It's a critical step towards protecting our citizens from online bullies and predators."

The bill now moves on to the state Senate.

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