House Sends Grove Sexting Measure to Governor
HARRISBURG – Legislation authored by Rep. Seth Grove (R-Dover) that would reduce the current felony penalties for minors caught transmitting sexually explicit photos of themselves or their peers was approved by the House Wednesday and will now be presented to Gov. Tom Corbett for his signature.
“This legislation has always been about sending the message to teenagers that sexting is not OK, and it can have serious consequences,” said Grove. “We also realize that immaturity and inexperience can lead to very poor choices, and no teenager should see his or her life shattered because of one thoughtless indiscretion.”
House Bill 815 would make it a summary offense for a minor to knowingly transmit, distribute, publish or disseminate sexually explicit images of himself or herself. A minor knowingly possessing or viewing such images of another individual who is 12 or older could also be charged with a summary offense.
A minor who knowingly transmits, distributes, publishes or disseminates a sexually explicit image of another minor who is 12 or older could be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor.
A minor who takes a photo of another minor in a state of nudity, either with or without that person’s consent, and transmits or distributes that photo without the other’s knowledge or consent with the intention of coercing, intimidating, harassing or causing emotional distress could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.
Under current law, these images would be classified as child pornography, and anyone caught transmitting, viewing or possessing them could be charged with a felony.
The legislation would allow the Commonwealth to confiscate any communication devices used in violation of this law. It also would allow judges to assign violators of the act to a diversionary program, which may include an educational program. Successful completion of a diversionary program would allow a person’s record to be expunged.
Grove noted that the bill being sent to the governor differs from his original language; however, he understands the effort to delineate the various circumstances surrounding sexting.
“It is unfortunate that teenagers are misusing this technology in such a way that could have a long lasting impact on their futures,” said Grove. “Once an inappropriate photo is taken, the genie is out of the bottle, and in hours the image can take on a life of its own and spread across the globe. Once distributed, these photos cannot be retracted and can be retransmitted countless times.”
More information about Grove and his legislative priorities is available at www.RepGrove.com
State Representative Seth Grove
196th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Nicole Wamsley