The N.C. Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to ban “revenge porn,” but legislators agreed to make the crime a misdemeanor for first-time offenders under age 18.
House Bill 792 would make it a felony to distribute nude or sexual photos obtained “within the context of a personal relationship.” It targets the growing trend of “revenge porn,” in which someone posts nude photos online after a romantic relationship ends.
The Senate added a provision that targets Charlotte’s “naked neighbor,” a man who often poses naked in front of a glass door at his home. An amendment from Sen. Brent Jackson, a Sampson County Republican, would make it a Class 2 misdemeanor to expose oneself on private property where they might be seen by someone who’s in a public place.
But another addition to the bill proved controversial. Sen. Gladys Robinson, a Greensboro Democrat, proposed a reprieve for offenders under age 18. They’d face a Class 1 misdemeanor charge.
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“We are concerned about kids who do stupid stuff and are slapped with a felony at a young age,” Robinson said. “That’s going to impact their total lives without an opportunity to redeem themselves.”
Sen. Kathy Harrington of Gastonia and several other Republicans disagreed, arguing that the damage done by a “revenge porn” posting merits a felony charge. “The victim doesn’t get a second chance,” Harrington said. “The victim is victimized 24 hours a day for the rest of their lives.”
But Jackson said he doesn’t think the negative effects would last a lifetime. “Everybody says the internet is eternal,” he said. “I believe the internet and all of that will be irrelevant just as the newspaper is last week’s news.”
Robinson’s amendment passed in a 28-15 vote. The bill now returns to the House for a final vote before it heads to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk.