Legislation passed to make 'revenge porn' a crime in NYS

Mar 2, 2019

Legislation has passed in the New York State Legislature that would make revenge porn a crime. All that’s left before it becomes law is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature.

In the past, if you went to law enforcement after someone released a private intimate image with the intent to hurt or publically shame you, there was no legal course of action you could take.

This new law would make that crime a class A misdemeanor with the potential to serve up to a year in prison. When it comes to past victims, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said from a criminal standpoint, you can’t go back and charge something that wasn’t already a law at the time that it occurred.

“This happens a lot. When that happens, the detective, or one of my ADAs, has unfortunately had to tell the victim there’s nothing unfortunately we can do. Now there is.”

Flynn said the victims in these cases are mainly women.

“What I would say to victims who have been victimized by this in the past is that you know going forward others won’t endure the pain that you went through,” Flynn said. “It’s not total solace for them obviously but… it’s the same principal as the Childs Victim Act. Going forward victims now will know that others will (hopefully) not have to endure the pain that they went through.”

Assemblymember Monica Wallace said the victims of revenge porn will later have issues with employment, relationships, and mental health. She says almost half of these victims contemplated suicide as a result of stress and humiliation.

“This press conference today is to raise awareness,” said Wallace, “so that individuals know, that if they engage in this kind of despicable conduct, they will be held accountable and hopefully that will deter people from doing that in the future.”

The new legislation also creates a right of action for victim to pursue damages and injunctive relief against somebody, even if there is not a criminal conviction. With that, an individual can obtain a court order to have an intimate image removed from the internet.

“I use, in essence, the tools that are in my toolbox,” Flynn said. “Today, I have a new tool in my toolbox. I have a tool now that gives me the ability to prosecute individuals who commit this despicable act.”