Revenge porn soon to be a crime in Indiana, victims getting two new laws to fight back

Computer and gavel. (Shutterstock / create jobs 51)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Victims of "revenge porn" will soon have two ways to fight back here in Indiana.

One new law allows victims to sue those who share sexually explicit photos of them without their consent.

Another law makes revenge porn a crime, punishable by jail time.

Just days ago, a criminal law against "revenge porn" looked grim for Pam Speckman, whose daughter was a victim.

A law signed by Governor Holcomb only allowed victims to sue individuals in civil court for disclosing or publicly posting "intimate images" without consent.

"I literally slid down the wall in my house and cried," Speckman said recalling her disappointment in not seeing a criminal element to the law that was signed a week ago. "This affects so many people. It touches so many people."

Colene Speckman was a victim of revenge porn. (WTHR Staff)

Speckman and her daughter, Colene, were among the first to come forward to ask for a criminal law against "revenge porn" back in 2017.

"She was put on a porn site," said Speckman, who discovered her daughter and dozens of other teenage girls on the site.

Colene revealed how a teenage boy she refused to date in high school got back at her by copying provocative photos she posted to "Snapchat" and posted them to porn sites.

Colene told 13 Investigates she did not realize how quickly someone could grab a copy of the photo before it disappeared from the site.

Police told Speckmans that posting images without consent is not a crime in Indiana.

The family turned to State Senator Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis) and 13 Investigates.

"It's just, it's gotta stop. It's so personal," added Speckman.

For three years, Freeman tried to make "revenge porn" a crime. The last two years, bills did not make it out of committee.

This year, Freeman tried again.

Back in February, a Hamilton County teacher had made an emotional plea to lawmakers, after images of her were sent by an ex to her school corporation.

"I know if I don't speak up, maybe nobody will, and nothing will change," said the woman, who asked that her name not be used as she testified before a committee.

This week, after some last minute negotiations among lawmakers over a second proposed law, victims across Indiana could finally get what they've been asking for.

Senator Aaron Freeman, (R-Indianapolis) (WTHR Staff)

"For the first time in our state's history, we're actually going to have a crime. It's now an A misdemeanor to release images without their consent. It's a felony, a level 6-felony if you do it a second time," said Senator Freeman who represents Franklin Township in southeast Indianapolis.

Fourty-one states and the District of Columbia already have criminal laws on the books.

Revenge Porn is described in numerous ways including sexual cyber harassment, violation of Privacy, blackmail, unlawful dissemination, and non-consensual disclosure.

No matter how the states define it, they all say it's a crime.

In Michigan, it is a misdemeanor. Across Indiana's western border in Illinois , revenge porn is a felony.

A conviction nets up to 90 days in jail in some states and over a year in state prison in others. Repeat offenders could even face up to 10 years behind bars, with fines topping $100,000 in Georgia and $150,000 in Arizona.

Under Indiana's law, a conviction for revenge porn could receive up to a year in jail.

"I'm thrilled. I'm thrilled," said Pam Speckman, who said she is now crying tears of joy.

"I think the state is sending a very strong message to folks here: 'Knock it off!'" said Freeman. "This kind of behavior is not going to be tolerated here in Indiana."

The law to make revenge porn a crime is awaiting the Governor's signature. It would take effect July 1.

Senator Freeman says the goal now is to educate teens. He says the law would be part of Indiana code and that means young people could also be held accountable in juvenile court.

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