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    Fall River representative calls for criminalizing ‘revenge porn’

    A Fall River lawmaker wants to criminalize the retaliatory distribution of sexually explicit material, also known as “revenge porn,” citing the suicide of a Massachusetts high school student last year after a nude photo of the person was posted on Facebook.

    Democratic state Representative Alan Silvia, who was a police officer for 22 years, said law enforcement officials and counselors were brought into the school to determine how the sexually explicit material had been posted on the social networking site.

    “As a result of that, it caused great distress in the community,” said Silvia, who is also a former child abuse investigator. “Education was at a halt.”

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    The incident, which occurred in Taunton, prompted Silvia to file legislation that says a person “intending to cause substantial emotional distress or humiliation by means of a electronic communication device, and without consent of the other person, electronically distributes” nudity or a sexual act can be punished with a $1,000 fine or at least a year in prison, or both.

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    Individuals under 18 years old would be fined for a first and second offense; a third offense or subsequent offense would carry a $1,000 fine or imprisonment term of no more than 60 days.

    “Young people are especially at risk,” Silvia said, noting that they often are the heaviest users of social networking applications such as Facebook.

    “We have nothing to protect people from what goes on electronically,” Silvia said, after testifying in support of his bill in front of the Joint Education Committee on Wednesday.

    “I just feel that we really have not addressed this in the Commonwealth, where in other states throughout the country they are, for the very reason I come before you,” he told the committee. “While we have not had an outbreak on suicides, one life is too many.”

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    The bill calls on school districts that provide a sexual education curriculum to also include the “dangers and negative consequences” of distributing sexually explicit photographs of students.

    State Representatives Paul Schmid, Democrat of Westport; Carole Fiola, Democrat of Fall River; and Jeffrey Roy, Democrat of Franklin, are cosponsors of Silvia’s bill.