Sch­wank in­tro­duces sex­tor­tion leg­is­la­tion

Aims to crim­i­nal­ize the co­er­cion of sex­ual con­duct with con­se­quences com­pa­ra­ble to sim­i­lar sex­ual of­fenses

Northern Berks Patriot Item - - LOCAL NEWS - From Sen. Sch­wank’s Of­fice

Penn­syl­va­nia Sens. and Judy Sch­wank (D-11) and Randy Vu­lakovich (R-38) have in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion that aims to crim­i­nal­ize the co­er­cion of sex­ual con­duct.

Se­nate Bill 1134 would es­tab­lish sex­tor­tion as a spe­cific crim­i­nal of­fense with con­se­quences com­pa­ra­ble to sim­i­lar sex­ual of­fenses.

“As a for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer, I have seen this in­ex­cus­able and ex­ploitive be­hav­ior pro­lif­er­ate and this leg­is­la­tion would ban the cruel prac­tice – the vic­tims are of­ten un­able to re­cover from the stigma and the psy­cho­log­i­cal reper­cus­sions for the rest of their lives,” said Vu­lakovich. “I be­lieve we need to cre­ate stronger pun­ish­ments so Penn­syl­va­ni­ans know this con­duct will not be tol­er­ated.”

Sex­tor­tion oc­curs when sex or sex­ual im­ages are de­manded in lieu of money or other items with fi­nan­cial value. The act is rec­og­nized as a form of sex­ual as­sault and is crim­i­nal­ized in Alabama, Arkansas, Cal­i­for­nia, Texas and Utah.

While sex­tor­tion has a long his­tory, its use has grown in both in­ten­sity and fre­quency in the dig­i­tal age, out­pac­ing cur­rent laws and mech­a­nisms, while leav­ing vic­tims with in­ad­e­quate re­source and per­pe­tra­tors un­ac­count­able. Vic­tims con­front sex­tor­tion to­day in daily in­ter­ac­tions.

“This is be­hav­ior we see af­fect­ing peo­ple, pri­mar­ily women, at all lev­els of so­ci­ety,” Sch­wank said. “It is a de­mean­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that no one should have to go through to get hous­ing, em­ploy­ment or just to live their lives. This has been tol­er­ated for too long. We need to treat it like the crime it is.”

The leg­is­la­tion is sup­ported by the Penn­syl­va­nia Coali­tion Against Rape, the Of­fice of Vic­tim Ad­vo­cate and the Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s As­so­ci­a­tion. It was as­signed to the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee.

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