Jun. 05, 2019

HARRISBURG -- Today, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed legislation authored by Rep. Tedd Nesbit (R-Butler/Mercer) which would create a new crime of sexual extortion. Sexual extortion is a growing form of sexual exploitation, which current Pennsylvania law does not adequately cover.

Sexual extortion occurs in many settings—housing, workplaces, schools, legal systems, community settings and online. This crime occurs when a person uses coercion and misuses their power to demand sexual acts, images or videos from victims. Perpetrators withhold an essential service or thing of value from the victim, threaten a punishment or offer a reward—contingent upon whether or not the victim complies. Pennsylvania’s current laws do not match the severity of this crime, or its effects on victims.

“I am grateful to my colleagues, specifically Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia/Delaware), for their bi-partisan support of this important piece of legislation,” said Nesbit. “I am hopeful that the Senate will do the same so that Pennsylvania can lead the nation in addressing this serious sex crime. We know that with new and expanding technology, our state laws need to keep up to protect the most vulnerable.”

Nesbit’s bill will enable Pennsylvania to keep pace in a digital age that often facilitates certain types of sexual extortion. The Department of Justice recently reported sexual extortion is “by far the most significantly growing threat to children.” In fact, 71% of cases involve victims under the age of 18. A 2015 FBI sexual extortion investigation found that offenders were specifically seeking out children they considered easy targets because of their demonstrated willingness to post personal content online and engage in live-streaming video activity, whether the content was sexually explicit or not.

The mix of technology and those who want to criminally exploit others is significantly responsible for the rise in this crime.

House Bill 1402 now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.

Representative Tedd Nesbit
8th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Brooke Haskell
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