Virginia Revenge Porn Bill Advances After Explicit Videos of Democrat Candidate Published Online

The legislation would update the current revenge porn conviction from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony

Legislation that would broaden Virginia’s revenge porn law by adding a new category relating to “sexual” images was advanced in the Virginia House of Delegates on Jan. 31.

The bill, HB 926 (pdf) is sponsored by Democrat Del. Irene Shin and was advanced to a full committee by the Virginia House Courts of Justice Criminal Subcommittee in an 8-0 vote on Wednesday.

Virginia’s current law on the unlawful dissemination or sale of images pertains to images depicting a person who is either nude or in a state of undress, showing their genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or breasts.

Under the law, it is a crime for any person to “maliciously” disseminate or sell nude or sexual images of another person with the intent to “coerce, harass, or intimidate.”

Ms. Shin’s bill would expand the law to cover images that depict another person who is “in a state of undress so as not to expose the genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast but such videographic or still image is sexual or sensual in nature where such person knows or has reason to know that he is not licensed or authorized to disseminate or sell such videographic or still image.”

The measure does not define what constitutes “sexual in nature.”

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It defines “another person” as “a person whose image was used in creating, adapting, or modifying a videographic or still image with the intent to depict an actual person and who is recognizable as an actual person by the person’s face, likeness, or other distinguishing characteristics.”

Ms. Shin’s bill would also extend the statute of limitations for prosecution to 10 years from the date the victim discovers the offense. Under the current law, it stands at five years from the date the offense was committed.

It would also update the current revenge porn conviction from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony.

“All too often, victims don’t even know that their personal images will have been disseminated,” Ms. Shin said.

She added that the new measure would build on the General Assembly’s previous work to protect victims from having their intimate images shared online without their consent.

Democratic Candidate Livestreams Sex Acts

Last year, the issue of revenge porn received renewed scrutiny in Virginia following reports that recordings of Susanna Gibson, a nurse practitioner and then-Democratic candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, performing sexual acts with her husband had been published online.

Ms. Gibson acknowledged that she had live-streamed sex acts with her husband on a platform called Chaturbate and encouraged viewers to pay them “tips” for specific requests, although she said that she and her husband never made any money from the platform.
Virginia General Assembly file photo (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
Virginia General Assembly file photo (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

‘Fodder for Humiliating Cyberattacks’

She said the videos were livestreamed “in the context of my loving marriage.”

However, Ms. Gibson told multiple media outlets that the footage was illegally recorded and published on other sites and platforms without her consent. She later lost the House race.

Ms. Gibson said that Wednesday’s vote by the subcommittee vote advancing the latest legislation to a full committee showed the General Assembly understands the “severity and the extent of the damage that is done to victims.”

“These are crimes that can and do affect everyone, regardless of political party, age, race or class,” she said.

“Increasingly, relationships include consensually exchanging intimate images, which may later become fodder for humiliating cyberattacks,” said Catherine Ford, a lobbyist for the victims’ network.

Christian Martinez, a spokesperson for Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, said his office will review any legislation that comes to his desk but did not comment further on the latest measure.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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