Lawmakers debate sexual extortion, child stalking crime bills

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Two bills being debated are focused on helping younger people, addressing sexual extortion and stalking.

A bill discussed in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday would make sexual extortion a crime.

It would make it illegal to threaten to distribute naked pictures of a person if they don’t agree to have sex. It would also be illegal to threaten to harm someone if they don’t agree to send sexually explicit pictures.

A person could land on the sex offender list if convicted.

Last session a similar bill passed the House with every member voting to approve it, but it didn’t make it to the Senate floor when the session was cut short. So this year the bill was the first that was pre-filed in the legislature.

Its sponsor, Hesston Representative Stephen Owens said he wanted to get this bill debated right away. Owens pointed to freshman Kansas City Representative Aaron Coleman’s admitting to revenge porn earlier in life as another reason to get the bill on the floor early.

“I thought it was even more prudent that it was introduced this year early on considering the individual that was elected from Kansas City that actually has a history of this type of activity,” Owens said.

Coleman provided the following statement.

“I haven’t had a chance to review the legislation with my constituents yet so I’m going to refrain from commenting for now,” Coleman said.

Owens said technological advances could make this issue, especially for kids, a problem for years to come.

“Is it a huge issue, I hope not, but I bet it’s a bigger issue than we realize because these things happen and they don’t know how to bring it forward, they don’t know where to go with it,” Owens said. “They figure that in some instances it’s easier to just go along to get along to protect their image and their reputation than it is to go to the authorities because then it could become public.”

He said this could help prosecutors when trying to convict a person.

“Here’s a way that this law has been skirting, so we need to make sure that this individual and future individuals know that the activity and that the things that they are doing are illegal, so we’re kind of closing a gap, we’re closing a loophole in the law that allows that activity to occur,” Owens said.

Lawmakers are also debating a bill that would increase the penalties for stalking a child. You can find that bill here.

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