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Virginia lawmakers propose new bill to prevent unwanted sexting

Virginia lawmakers propose new bill to prevent unwanted sexting
Posted at 9:00 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 21:00:59-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The first week of the General Assembly gives lawmakers a chance for items they consider of high importance.

Two Virginia lawmakers, Senator Jennifer McClellan, a Democrat, and Delegate Carrie Coyner, a Republican, have signed onto a bill that would punish people who send unsolicited lewd images to another person.

Backers of the bill say that right now under Virginia law, minors are protected but adults are not. They want to give victims of digital sexual harassment a way to fight back.

The bill would allow Commonwealth Attorneys to pursue fines for offenders - $250 for the first offense and $250 for each one after that.

The dating app Bumble has also signed onto the effort.

A Pew research poll from a few years ago found that 53% of young women and 37% of young men report this kind of digital sexual harassment.

"We already have laws on the books that protect people from flashing, but flashing has basically gone digital," Sen. McClellan said.

"It creates a lot of trauma in the lives of victims of this type of harassment. We have an opportunity in Virginia to protect women especially. We know women are much more likely to be victims of this harassment," Del. Coyner said.

A similar bill failed to pass both chambers last year because of concerns over unintended consequences for creating criminal penalties and they ran out of time to fix them.

The group backing this bill hopes their tweaks will get it across the finish line this year.