2012-10-24 / Local & State

Lawmakers Send Corbett Bill On Juvenile Sexting

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A bill to create criminal penalties for minors who transmit nude or sexually explicit images of themselves or other youths passed both chambers of the Legislature on Wednesday and was sent to the governor.

The House voted 188-3 and Senate 37-12 in favor of the measure designed to punish kids who are 17 or younger for the practice known as sexting. It would impose a summary offense or a misdemeanor, depending on the facts.

It also would punish a minor who knowingly possesses or views a sexually explicit image of another youth who is 12 or older.

A situation involving an image of a child under 12 would likely be prosecuted under laws that are designed to protect children from sexual abuse or child pornographers and that carry punishments graded as felonies.

Under the bill, the punishments would be more severe if a minor creates an image of another youth in a state of nudity without his or her consent or transmits it with the intent to coerce, intimidate or harass him or her.

A minor charged under such a law could be referred to a diversionary program and get the record of the charge expunged by successfully completing it.

In the House, Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, said he was against the approach, despite concerns about the practice of sexting among children.

“Clearly when you have minors sexting between themselves, this is the wrong thing to do,” Vitali said. “It's wrong, it's arguably immoral, it's inappropriate and it's subject to punishment. But I think the question is, What type of punishment do you use in this type situation?”

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