Local News

A state House committee has passed a bill that would extend protections to victims of “revenge porn” in Kentucky.

The legislation would prohibit distributing pornographic images or video without the consent of the person or people depicted.

Jeff Metzmeier, an assistant Jefferson County attorney, said the issue isn’t covered by current law.

“One of the problems that I saw early on is there’s no statute to cover that act, that act of maliciously distributing those materials,” Metzmeier said.

The bill would charge a Class A misdemeanor to those who distribute pornographic images with the intent to “harm, harass, intimidate, threaten, or coerce the person depicted.”

Those who distribute the images or video for profit would be charged with a Class D felony.

State Rep. Joni Jenkins, a Louisville Democrat and the bill’s primary sponsor, said the bill doesn’t just apply to “revenge porn.”

“It is not always a revenge situation,” Jenkins said. “This is an act relating to the distribution of sexually explicit images without the consent of the person depicted.”

Hackers who steal explicit photos from cell phones and private computes would also be implicated under the bill.

Excluded from the legislation would be images “involving voluntary nudity, or sexual conduct, in public or commercial settings or in a place where a person does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

A similar version of the bill was proposed in 2014 but never made it out of committee.

Lawmakers on Wednesday raised concerns about how consent would be defined under the bill. Monticello Republican Rep. Ken Upchurch suggested that the parties provide written consent.

“That would just set it in stone that if they’re not giving written consent then that would take care of it,” Upchurch said.

The bill passed unanimously out of committee, but Jenkins said she would likely amend the bill on the House floor to give guidelines for how consent would be given.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.