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Revenge porn bill passes Wyoming Senate
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Revenge porn bill passes Wyoming Senate

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Stith

Rep. Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs, stands and applauds a colleague March 1 during the first day of the 66th Wyoming Legislature inside the state Capitol. Stith sponsored a bill addressing the practice known as revenge porn.

The Wyoming Senate voted Monday to pass a bill that would make it illegal to share explicit images or videos without the subject’s consent.

House Bill 85 addresses what’s commonly known as revenge porn. As of 2019, Wyoming was just one of four states in the U.S. without any laws concerning the practice.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs, passed unanimously out of the Senate on its third reading Monday, save for one excused senator. Now, amendments made in the chamber will go back to the House of Representatives — where it also passed with a consensus — for approval before being sent to Gov. Mark Gordon’s desk.

Changes made to the bill in the Senate increased the penalty for distributing revenge porn from six months in prison and/or a $1,000 fine to up to one year behind bars and a $5,000 fine or both.

Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, introduced the amendment, saying that the crime is still a misdemeanor but deserves a more severe sentence based on how harmful it can be to victims in the long term.

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“The idea that this chamber has, that six months in prison is equivalent to a slap on the wrist, I don’t know where we established that,” said Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, during the bill’s first reading in the Senate Thursday. “I don’t know if anyone here has served six months in prison, I know I haven’t … I don’t know where we got to the point where we think that’s trivial.”

Nethercott said that jail is rarely ordered in cases like these, but it is required to have a sentence attached to any crime that becomes part of state statute.

An amendment added in the House of Representatives includes a clause that specifies that the image must be shared with the intent of humiliating or harassing someone or to cause arousal or sexual gratification.

“This is frankly a devastating situation for people who had this happen to them,” Sen. John Kolb, R-Rock Springs, said Thursday.

According to the bill, the crime would prosecute the distribution of any photos, videos or other recordings showing nudity, sexual acts being performed or genitalia that the subject intended to remain private or did not explicitly consent to be shared.

The bill only applies to people 18 or older, since separate statutes apply to minors sexting or distributing pornographic images.

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