Our View: Address 'revenge porn'

Wednesday , September 11, 2013 - 10:45 AM

Editorial Board, Standard-Examiner

Let’s make this very simple: Posting nude photos of anyone without their consent is illegal.

So, if you’re in an intimate relationship with someone, and after the relationship is over, you post intimate photos of that individual on web sites, social media, or email and text the photos to others without consent, it’s a criminal act that needs to be considered in sentencing.

It’s called “revenge porn,” and it’s something more prosecutors across the nation are hearing about. Vengeful ex-spouses or partners are sharing once-private photos to humiliate their former lovers. There are even ”revenge porn” websites, in which sleazebags provide an online clearinghouse for these photos.

Fortunately, Davis County is cracking down on this type of abuse, intimidation and cruelty. A Davis County man is charged with five counts of distribution of pornographic materials, third-degree felonies, as well as four counts of electronic communication harassment, class B misdemeanors. Layton police allege that Shon C. Handrahan sent nude and obscene photographs of his wife last year to people she knew, as well as threatening text messages.

As mentioned, we’re glad to see Davis County actively working to prosecute cases such as this. A better solution would be to enact a statute that includes revenge porn to enhance the current law. As the law dictates, people who take photos are considered, in the absence of a contract, the owners of the photos. According to Kathy Allen, a victim advocate with Safe Harbor Crisis Center, a shelter for women in Davis County, a woman in a non-violent domestic relationship cannot get a protective order to stop an ex-boyfriend or ex-husband from posting photos online or sending the photos in a text message.

That’s incredible, and needs to be remedied by the Utah Legislature. Legislators need to focus on revenge porn, making it very costly for “exes” humiliate former lovers by posting nude photos online. Only the most obtuse lawyer would try to claim that such an action was not retaliatory or vindictive toward the victim. Doing that to someone because a relationship ends is extremely cruel and must not be tolerated.

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