New York, December 21, 2017 - Legal Momentum is proud to endorse Governor Cuomo’s proposal to criminalize offenses—including disclosing, or threatening to disclose, intimate or sexually explicit images or videos without consent—under state law and to require convicted perpetrators to register as sex offenders. With “Ending Sextortion Now,” the 11th proposal of the 2018 State of the State, Governor Cuomo is putting New York State at the forefront of protecting young women and girls from exploitation. Sextortion is extortion that seeks sexual images or sexual acts instead of, or in addition to money. The FBI has called sextortion “one of the fastest-growing threats to children.”
Legal Momentum is proud to have partnered with the Governor’s office on this issue during the past year. In 2016, Legal Momentum, Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, and the Thomson Reuters Foundation issued a groundbreaking report, “A Call to Action: Ending Sextortion in the Digital Age,” that highlighted the seriousness of this fast-growing crime and laid out a roadmap for closing loopholes in the law that have allowed perpetrators to go unpunished. We are thrilled to see New York taking the lead in following these recommendations. After the report’s publication, Legal Momentum worked with pro bono partners Orrick to craft and pass first-of-its-kind anti-sextortion laws in several states in 2017, including Utah, Arkansas, Alabama, Texas, and, most recently, California. Because of these efforts, women and girls in those states are now protected from online predators. We are now working on pending legislation with New Jersey, the District of Columbia, and in Congress with Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts.
Carol Robles-Román, President and CEO of Legal Momentum, said “We are thrilled that Governor Cuomo is taking this bold step to stem cyber-violence against women in New York with this proposal. Legal Momentum has led the charge to make violence against girls and women illegal. The Internet is the new frontier for abusive and coercive violence and sexual abuse. The negative impact of cyber-violence against women and girls is far-reaching and long-lasting. Yet sextortion has not been recognized as a crime—until now.”
This much-needed legislation will ensure that victims of sextortion and non-consensual pornography can seek and obtain justice and that offenders are held fully accountable in New York State and subject to prison terms if convicted. The vast majority of victims of these crimes are young women and girls. We urge members of the public to reach out to their New York State legislators to express their support for the bill.
Legal Momentum, the Women's Legal Defense and Education Fund, has been advocating on behalf of girls and women for nearly 50 years. Legal Momentum was instrumental in drafting and helping pass the Violence Against Women Act and other major legislation that protects girls and women. More information about sextortion and tips on staying safe online are available free of charge on Legal Momentum’s website.
About Legal Momentum
Legal Momentum is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1970 to advance the rights of women by using the power of the law and creating innovative public policy in three broad areas: economic justice, freedom from gender-based violence and equality under the law. For more information visit www.legalmomentum.org.