Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (D-Rockland) and Senator Samra Brouk (D- Rochester) announce today that their co-efforted legislation to expand the coercion law in the third degree to include “sextortion” has finally been signed into law by Governor Hochul (A324A/S2986A). Previously, the penal law did not expressly prohibit coercing the production or receipt of intimate images. This critical new tenet to the law, going into effect in 60 days, empowers prosecutors to hold these criminals and their behavior rightfully accountable.
Coercion is defined as the act of compelling or inducing an individual into producing or sharing intimate images under threat of physical or emotional harm. The coercion law, as it previously stood—and the penal law as a whole--did not state that coercing someone to create or share intimate images could be prosecuted. This new defining measure clarifies that coercion in the third degree can now be used to prosecute “sextortion,” clearly specifying this in the law.
“Sextortion is a deeply disturbing crime where an individual, through coercive action, manipulates another into creating intimate images that are often used to further this criminal activity,” said Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski. “Due to the lack of clarity in the penal law, these types of crimes are often not prosecuted; leaving little deterrent for the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. This legislation closes that loophole by explicitly stating that the coercion law includes the production or dissemination intimate images. I want to thank Governor Hochul for signing this meaningful legislation into law. Thank you to Legal Momentum and other organizations for their advocacy and work to provide this necessary clarity to better assist prosecutors to go after these criminals.”
“While the tools of intimate and partner abuse may evolve and change, the abuse itself must always remain unlawful and those who perpetrate it must always be held accountable,” said Senator Brouk. “I hope our governor signs this legislation to help us protect young women, minors and other vulnerable members of our communities from being coerced into sharing intimate images.”
“Sexual extortion and coercion are a growing form of abuse, proliferating with the accessibility and growth of technology and social media. Criminalizing coerced and extorted sexually explicit images is another leading step forward by New York State and we hope other states will follow this model, said Jennifer Becker, Deputy Legal Director and Senior Attorney for Legal Momentum. Many of the victims of sextortion – disproportionately young women – are targeted online and coerced into creating and sending sexual images, which can be the start of a long, harmful cycle of abuse. Now, New Yorkers have a tool to hold offenders accountable.”