A Wake County teen is in trouble after investigators said he shared video of himself engaged in sexual activity with another student.
North Carolina lawmakers started cracking down on the sharing of revenge porn and other private videos in 2015. Increased protection for victims went into effect in December 2017 following the passage of House Bill 399.
“Before 2015, we had no way of protecting victims when people disseminated explicit images of them without their consent. So now, if someone’s a victim of that crime, and someone has disseminated pictures, images, videos of them without their consent, then that’s a crime,” Amily McCool said.
“Recording a video absolutely could be domestic violence, if you are recording that without consent of your partner, and especially if you’re disseminating that without the consent of your partner.”
McCool recently returned to private practice after years as the legal and policy director for the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She worked with Representative Chris Malone of Wake Forest on House Bill 399, which made changes to the state’s revenge porn bill, which originally made it a crime to post explicit images online after a “personal relationship” ended.
House Bill 399 doesn’t require a defined relationship,
In the recent Raleigh case, records show a 17-year-old recorded a sexual encounter with a girl he was dating, without her knowledge or consent. A search warrant indicates the teen later sent the video to a classmate and other people saw it, too.
The investigating detective’s probable cause affidavit said “the video is demeaning and humiliating to (the 17-year-old victim).”
“Just think about the harm that comes when those really private images are spread. It really hurts people’s self-esteem. It hurts their reputation,” McCool said. “Sometimes it’s being spread without really being thinking about the intent and the harm, but a lot of times it’s done with the intent to actually harm that person, and is used for power and control.”
She said it is important not to shame victims, and for friends and acquaintances to offer them support. She also advised victims to contact domestic violence helplines for counseling and comforting.
Cases involving adults are classified as a felony while juveniles face misdemeanor charges.
“It’s also important to understand that when the perpetrators and people who are disseminating these images are minors, the legislature has balanced that by making this crime a misdemeanor instead of a felony. While the harm is absolutely the same to the victim, and it’s important to hold folks accountable that when a minor is doing this, we also recognize that they’ve made a mistake and they’re charged with a misdemeanor instead of a felony,” McCool said.
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