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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 2, 2019 03:33 PM
From: Senator Judith L. Schwank and Sen. Kim L. Ward
To: All Senate members
Subject: Sexual extortion
We will shortly reintroduce SB 1134 from the 2017-2018 session to criminalize extortion of sexual acts. SB 1134 was developed in close consultation with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and the state Office of Victim Advocate. The Senate passed it unanimously during the past session.
Recognizing the criminal nature of sexual extortion, sometimes referred to as “sextortion,” and applying consequences to it, is a top priority of PCAR. Utah, Arkansas, Alabama, Texas and California have recognized that these acts are a form of sexual assault by criminalizing them, and similar legislation is pending in other states and Congress.
Sexual extortion is distinguished from extortion by its demands being made for sexual conduct or images, instead of for money or other things with financial value. This behavior has a long history verging on silent tolerance, and its use has grown in intensity and frequency in the Digital Age, outpacing laws and leaving victims with inadequate or no recourse while perpetrators remain unaccountable and even profit by it. Victims face it today in such everyday interactions as employment; in obtaining legal, medical and other professional services; in accessing housing, educational and business opportunities; and even in seeking justice in the courts. There is no place in society where it cannot and does not make its victims.
It is time to acknowledge the nature and harmfulness of this conduct by expressly dealing with it as a crime. Our bill would establish sexual extortion as a specific offense with consequences comparable to other sexual offenses.
We hope you will join us in dealing with this very important issue. Cosponsors in the previous session included Senators Leach, Killion, Brewster, Farnese, Blake, Mensch, Sabatina, Costa, Browne, Hughes, Aument, Haywood, Yudichak and Baker.

Introduced as SB337