“Sextortion” law expanded

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State Capitol

ALBANY – Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (D-Rockland) and Senator Samra Brouk (D- Rochester) announce on Wednesday that their legislation to expand the coercion law in the third degree to include “sextortion” has been signed into law by Governor Hochul (A324A/S2986A). 

Previously, the law did not expressly prohibit coercing the production or receipt of intimate images. This new tenet to the law, going into effect in 60 days, empowers prosecutors to hold these criminals and their behavior 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 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.”

  “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.”