Politics
5:18 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Utah House Passes 'Revenge Porn' Bill

Lawmakers in the Utah House passed a bill on Friday, making it a crime for a person to distribute intimate images of others with the intent to harm them. 

Cottonwood Heights Democrat Marie Poulson wants to penalize those who take images that may have been generated from consensual sexual activity, but are then used by one person to shame or emotionally destroy the other person. The practice is called revenge porn. While presenting her bill to Representatives on the House Floor, Poulson read a letter she received from a constituent.

"I was a victim of revenge porn when I was 19 years old in college and it nearly destroyed me, but there were no laws to stop this person from continuing to assault me emotionally and by reputation. I’ve had to file a three year limit restraining order against this person which has cost me thousands of dollars of attorney fees and here I live in fear twelve years later," said Poulson reading from a constituent letter.

The original draft of Poulson’s bill would make the first conviction of the crime a third degree felony. That provision and some questions on what constitutes intent, led Lehi Republican Jacob Anderegg to question the legislation.

"We keep on throwing felonies out there and the combination of a felony with this ambiguity on intent is just a little too much for me to support this bill," said Anderegg.

But during debate that lasted more than an hour, the bill was amended so the first offense would be classified as a class A misdemeanor. The second and subsequent convictions of the crime would be classified as third degree felonies. The amended bill passed the House with broad support. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.