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Virginia General Assembly Bill Would Allow "Revenge Porn" Victims to Sue in Civil Court

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Victims of “revenge porn” would have grounds to sue their tormentors if a state Senate bill by Jennifer Wexton, D-Loudoun, passes.

The measure, SB1210, passed to the Senate floor on a 11-3 vote Monday in the Courts of Justice Committee.

It creates a cause of action in civil court against someone who knowingly takes nude or seminude images or video of nonconsenting victims. The bill would give victims a right to seek compensatory and punitive damages.

The term revenge porn describes the act of trying to get back at others by posting sexually explicit images online without their consent.

“This legislation is an important step towards addressing the perverse rape culture that far too often goes ignored,” Wexton said in a statement. “Victims of these kinds of sexual exploitation suffer irreparable harm and must be able to petition courts for compensatory and punitive damages.”

Committee members debated the nuances of whether the law already covers “intentional infliction of distress” for such an act.

Wexton said the bill takes away the need to show intent, instead making the act of taking the photos or videos itself actionable in civil court.

Several states have passed similar laws in recent years, she said.

Wexton proposed the bill after a case in Loudoun County in which a woman was drugged and a man took photos of her .

The victim’s attorney testified that the bill is an example of law trying to keep pace with technology and its associated issues.

Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, voted in favor, saying it protects Virginians.

“Capturing lewd materials without consent is unacceptable and victims must have judicial recourses available to them,” Edwards said.

The General Assembly in 2014 passed a criminal law addressing revenge porn. Violations are punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.


This story originally appeared on PilotOnline.com.

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