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Senate Passes Bill Outlawing "Revenge Porn" and Acts on Other Measures to Protect Children and Individuals From Exploitation and Abuse

June 08, 2017

The New York Senate today passed legislation criminalizing “revenge porn.” The bill (S2725A), sponsored by Senator Joseph Griffo (R-C-I, Rome), would establish the crime of non-consensual dissemination of sexually explicit images, also known as “revenge porn.”

Senator Griffo said, “In an era of increased text messaging, social networking, and emailing, people in intimate relationships sometimes share pictures with each other, some of which may be sexually explicit in nature. However, recipients of these images do not always keep the images private and have the ability to widely disseminate the photos on the Internet. Posting these photographs online should be a crime because it damages the reputations and potentially the wellbeing of the victims, who are routinely threatened with sexual assault, harassed, or fired from jobs.”
 
Revenge porn is often committed via the internet, sometimes with disparaging descriptions and identifying details, and in an effort to maximize damage against victims. New York’s current distribution of unlawful surveillance only governs photographs taken without the subject’s consent. This bill would make it a class A misdemeanor to disseminate photographs that are captured consensually, oftentimes as part of an intimate, private relationship which are later disclosed by an individual without the consent of the individual photographed.

In addition to this measure, the Senate passed a variety of measures this week to safeguard individuals and families by creating new crimes, increasing penalties, and giving law enforcement necessary tools to combat abuse and exploitation. The bills passed this week include:

Shielding Those Targeted by Pornographic Defamation: Bill S457, sponsored by Senator Catharine Young (R-C-I, 57th District), would make the dissemination of unlawful surveillance or other images to a porn website without consent a class A misdemeanor. This bill provides protection from technological predators, specifically pedophiles, whose activities previously had not been determined to be illegal or criminal.

Defending the Well-being of Imperiled Children: Bill S2619, sponsored by Senator Andrew Lanza (R-C-I, Staten Island), would significantly strengthen the charge of Endangering the Welfare of a Child from a misdemeanor to a felony offense. Under current law, only misdemeanor penalties can be imposed, regardless of the severity of physical or mental abuse of a child under 17 years old.

Empowering Victims Against Their Predators: Bill S1445, sponsored by Senator Rich Funke (R-C-I, Fairport), would protect victims of sexual violence from the potential of repeat attacks by increasing their privacy and enabling them to have their voter records sealed. The victim would be able to do this by petitioning their County Supreme Court, where a judge could issue an order requiring confidentiality of the records.

Making the Murder of a Child Under 12 a First Degree Offense: Bill S883A, sponsored by Senator Martin Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn), would allow the most severe punishment for those who purposely take the life of a child, provided that the victim is under the age of 12. Under current law the murder of a child is not first degree murder unless it is accompanied by certain aggravating factors.

Increasing Protection At Domestic Violence Shelters: Bill S4311, sponsored by Senator Pamela Helming (R-C-I, Canandaigua), would provide expanded protections to employees of domestic violence shelters or those seeking their services by strengthening penalties for assaults at shelters.

Deterring People Who Harbor Sex Offenders: Bill S2595, sponsored by Senator Mike Ranzenhofer (R-C-I, Amherst), would amend current law to find any person who knowingly harbors, houses or employs a defaulting sex offender and who fails to contact law enforcement regarding the offender is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

Keeping Sex Offenders Away From Children: Bill S3030, sponsored by Senator Helming, increases penalties for the failure of a sex offender to register or follow the standards of the Sex Offender Registration Act, or to work on an ice cream truck, a class D felony.

Enhancing Security for College Students From Dangerous Sex Offenders: Bill S1009, sponsored by Senator Joseph Robach (R-C-I, Rochester), would prohibit level three sex offenders from living in college housing. College students on-campus generally live in very close quarters on their own for the first time. This measure takes into account that their safety could be compromised when they share living space with people they do not know anything about.

Increasing Penalties for False Reports of Missing Children: Bill S2630, sponsored by Senator Lanza, would establish a class E felony for dissemination of false missing child information. There have been many instances of deceitful Amber Alerts across the country that have prompted costly and detrimental investigations by law enforcement agencies. This bill would hold accountable those who commit this new crime.

Raising Awareness and Keeping Track of Dangerous Sex Offenders: Bill S296, sponsored by Senator Robach, would require level three sex offenders who have been convicted of violent crimes against children to wear an electronic monitoring device for life. The bill would also require the cost of the monitoring device to be absorbed by the sexual offender – not the state or local municipality.

Keeping Dangerous Sex Offenders Off the Internet: Bill S5321, sponsored by Senator Terrence Murphy (R-C-I, Yorktown), would prohibit level 2 or 3 sex offenders whose offense was committed against a minor from using the internet. Oftentimes these types of sex offenders can use the internet as a means to pursue further victims. This measure would punish the offenders for violating this order.

Keeping Track of Sex Offenders in Residence: Bill S399, sponsored by Senator Robert Ortt (R-C-I, North Tonawanda), would create a definition of residence under the sex offender registry act. It would be defined as any place of abode, domicile, or inhabitance where a convicted sex offender spends or intends to spend more than two days a week, closing a longstanding loophole that allows sex offenders to move around without being properly tracked.

Taking Pedophiles Off the Streets: Bill S716, sponsored by Senator David Carlucci (D, Rockland/Westchester), would increase the penalties for use of a child in sexual performances, and provide for consecutive sentencing upon certain multiple convictions. Specifically it would increase the age from 16 to 18 for application of existing sexual performance crimes; create crimes of use of a child in a sexual performance in the first degree, promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child in the first degree, and promoting a sexual performance by a child in the first degree; and provide for consecutive sentencing upon certain multiple convictions.

Making our Subways and Other Public Transportation Safe: Bill S3861, sponsored by Senator Diane Savino (D, Staten Island), would create the penalty of aggravated sexual contact in the first degree as a class D felony, and include public lewdness while a passenger on public transportation as a class A misdemeanor.

The bills were sent to the Assembly.

Measures passed this week build upon the Senate’s success in securing crucial funding for the protection of children and families in the 2017-18 budget. Highlights include:

· $8.2 million for Rape Crisis Centers;
· $5.6 million total funding for the state Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, including a Senate-driven restoration of $1.6 million to fund domestic violence prevention and support programs; and
· $475,000 added by the Senate for Women’s Health and Wellness, in conjunction with millions of dollars in additional investments for child and family nutrition, prenatal and postnatal services, and early childhood and child care services, among others.

Senators Involved