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Senate OKs sexual images bill; makes it a crime to distribute without consent


The Register-Herald

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  — The West Virginia Senate unanimously passed a bill Thursday that would create a crime for distributing sexual images without consent.

All 31 present voted for passing Senate Bill 240, which Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, explained came about from students at Bethany College.

The bill defines a new crime for knowingly and intentionally disclosing or threatening to disclose a sexual image where the person had reasonable expectation that the picture would not be sent to the public.

A person violating this law would be charged with a misdemeanor and could face up to a year in jail and a fine up to $5,000. For a repeat offense, the person could be charged with a felony and could face a prison sentence up to three years and a fine up to $10,000.

Trump explained the bill does not apply if the person gave written consent before disclosure and in a situation in which a person exposed himself or herself in a commercial setting.

Trump said telecommunication carriers also would not be liable if they had no knowledge that the pictures were not consensual.

“Based on the testimony we heard, this is becoming an issue and is a statement of the times both in terms of morality and technology combined together,” Trump said. “Apparently, it’s not unheard of when a couple breaks up under circumstances that are unpleasant for one of them to get mad and blast out on the internet or cell phone private, intimate images. The students from Bethany talked to us and it was shocking to some of us that it was more common than we realized.”

The Senate also passed SB 182, which provides procedures preventing the disqualification of low bids for government construction contracts because of technicalities.

Sen. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, said the legislation addresses three documents required to be submitted with bids — subcontractors lists, a drug-free workplace affidavit and contractors’ license numbers. He said if these are not submitted with bids, it can be disqualified.

He said according to the Division of Purchasing, there have been several instances that resulted in disqualification of bids for state contract for minor technicalities. All 31 members present voted for passage.

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