So-called revenge porn is now a crime in New York City.
The City Council voted unanimously last week to pass a new bill that criminalizes the use of revenge porn, which lawmakers defines as a 21st century form of sexual assault used to embarrass or humiliate victims.
The legislation, inspired by a state bill sponcored byAssemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside), makes it a misdemeanor offense in New York City to disclose, or threaten to disclose, intimate images of another person without consent and with the intent to cause harm. If convicted, perpetrators can face up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.
According to Councilman Rory Lancman (D- Hillcrest), the bill also creates a civil cause of action to provide any person victimized by revenge porn with the opportunity to seek compensatory and punitive damages, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees.
New York is the 39th state, plus the District of Columbia, to currently have laws specifically targeted at combatting this practice. Neither New York state nor New York City had laws on the books to protect New Yorkers or hold perpetrators accountable.
Lancman said that for too long laws failed to keep up with evolving technology and left victims of revenge porn unable to seek justice and hold perpetrators accountable.
“Criminalizing revenge porn will ensure New Yorkers are protected and those who take part in this despicable conduct will face serious consequences.” he said.
Braunstein said he plans to continue to push further legislation in Albany to protect victims of revenge porn throughout the state.
“The non-consensual disclosure of sexually explicit images has damaged the lives of countless New Yorkers,” he said. “This new law will help to curb the practice through the imposition of criminal penalties.”
In April, the city Public Safety Committee held a hearing to formally consider the legislation, listening to testimony from district attorneys, advocates and the NYPD, which offered its support for making revenge porn a crime in New York City.
Prior to the Nov. 16 vote, Lancman and Braunstein along with victim advocates, law enforcement and a revenge porn victim held a news conference at City Hall to empathized the importance of the legislation.
Eric Rosenbaum, deputy chief of the Special Victims Bureau and chief of DNA Prosecutions at the Queens DA’s office, said that for years prosecutors have been frustrated by gaps in the law that left them unable to effectively respond to what he called a “serious problem we have seen with increasing regularity.” Rosenbaum said he is glad police and prosecutors finally have a tool to hold offenders accountable.
“When two people in a trusting relationship share an intimate image that they expect will remain private, it is simply wrong when one of the parties uses the image to inflict devastating financial or emotional harm out of spite when the relationship ends,” he said. “Thanks to the City Council’s vote to make it the law of New York City, prosecutors across the city hope that would-be offenders will now be deterred from unlawfully disseminating intimate images that were intended to remain private.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart
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