NEW JERSEY – Legislation sponsored by Senator Steven Oroho that would establish the crime of sexual extortion to fight a growing trend that often victimizes minors was advanced Monday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sexual extortion, also referred to as sextortion, occurs when a victim is threatened or coerced into engaging in sexual activity or to provide explicit photos or videos to the offender.
“Law enforcement agencies report a disturbing increase of cases preying on teenagers and children who are targeted by adults online or in person,” said Oroho (R-24). “Given the emotional and psychological harm these violations can have on young people, the Legislature must step up and pass this aggressive measure classifying this despicable behavior as a crime and protecting our children.”
Under the bipartisan bill, S-653, sexual extortion would be a crime of the third degree with a penalty of up to five years imprisonment and a $15,000 fine.
If the victim is under the age of 18 or an adult with a developmental disability, the charge would be aggravated sexual extortion, a crime of the second degree with penalties up to 10 years in prison and $150,000 in fines.
“This bill puts some real teeth in the existing laws and will significantly help young victims who are reluctant to report abuses due to fear or embarrassment,” Oroho said. “This legislation also sends a powerful message—New Jersey will not tolerate sexual bullying. If anyone engages in this reprehensible behavior, they will be punished.”
According to the FBI, sextortion can begin on any online site, app, or game. In some cases, the interaction begins with a threat to reveal an image or video unless the victim provides more pictures.
“More often, however, this crime starts when young people believe they are communicating with someone their own age who is interested in a relationship or with someone who is offering something of value,” advises the FBI on their website. “The adult will use threats, gifts, money, flattery, lies, or other methods to get a young person to produce an image.”
“These are nothing more than sex-motivated con artists preying on the vulnerabilities of teens and minors,” Oroho said. “With help from my colleagues in the Legislature and the Governor’s signature, we can turn the tables on these deviants and make them pay a steep price for the harm they cause to their innocent marks.”