JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Legislature has approved a bill banning “revenge porn” in ‘Jesse James country’.
House lawmakers gave Missouri House Bill 1558 final approval in a 138-0 vote Thursday. It passed the Senate 33-0 on Wednesday.
If enacted, the proposal would make distributing a sexual image of someone without their consent a felony.
The legislation was in the works long before Gov. Eric Greitens was charged with a felony for allegedly taking a photo of a partially nude woman during a sexual encounter and then threatening to release it if she revealed their relationship.
Previous efforts to pass the legislation failed.
With this bill clearing both the Senate and House, it only lacks Greitens’ signature to become law, however the embattled governor will not be signing legislation at this time with his trial approaching.
Missouri House Bill 1558
“Revenge Porn” refers to sexual images or videos of someone that are shared without that persons consent, even if it was originally taken with consent.
Missouri House Bill 1558 would make dissemination of “Revenge Porn” a felony, and it has cleared both the Senate and the House.
Under the bill, not only would it make the act of sharing those sexually explicit images without their consent a felony, but even threatening to do so would be a felony.
Under House Bill 1558, nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images would be a Class D felony, carrying a possibility of 2-7 years in jail.
Even threatening the nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images would be a Class E felony, carrying 1-4 years in jail.
Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody says at the law stands now, any one who is a victim of “Revenge Porn” has little protection.
“The closest thing that we have is an invasion of privacy,” Woody explains. “However, when you look at the statute there, it requires the original photo to be taken without the other partys consent.”
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens is currently battling a felony charge of invasion of privacy.
“Governor Greitens, it’s my understanding is being charged with taking the photograph without another parties consent,” Woody says.
Under the “Revenge Porn” statute, Greitens would fit the bill if convicted for threatening to share the photo, but he can’t be charged retroactively.
“If the law is placed into effect after the conduct that’s considered what’s called an ex-post facto law,” Woody explains. “So it will not cover actions or behaviors prior to the laws enactment.”
The bills’ main sponsor, Representative Jim Neely (R)-Cameron, says Greitens was not the influence for this bill. He says Greitens is irrelevant in this situation, as is the allegation of the photo in question.
“I don’t think this even applies to the Governor,” Neely says. To my knowledge there has been no photograph found and so how that all fits in here is somebody that wants to stir the pot.”
Woody says that Neely has a point on the fact that no photograph has been found.
“Nobody has seen that photograph and the only evidence of a photograph is from her seeing a flash and hearing what she believed to be a click. The state probably has an uphill battle to prove that one frankly,” Woody says.