RICHMOND (WRIC) - A recent 8News investigation exposed how "revenge porn" is destroying lives in Central Virginia, and across the country.
It's described as an epidemic. Malicious ex-lovers post intimate photos to the Internet with the intent to embarrass and humiliate an ex. Currently, victims of revenge porn have little legal recourse, but in Virginia that could soon change.
It takes just a few clicks of the keyboard and a quick Google search to find countless photos and videos of Central Virginia women and in some cases men who've had their intimate moments turned into public spectacles.
"When I first found out, I was absolutely devastated I was crying and sobbing and angry and just embarrassed," says revenge porn victim identified as "Sara."
There are countless revenge porn websites polluting the Internet. Many advertise they're the perfect way to get back at an ex by turning them into unknowing porn stars.
It's behavior Marcus Simon, the delegate-elect from falls church, calls criminal.
"Using their intimate images as a weapon against them is really criminal behavior and it ought to be a crime," he says.
But as 8News Investigative Reporter AJ Lagoe exposed, there's currently no law in Virginia prohibiting the nonconsensual posting of pornographic images. Only a handful of states have laws addressing revenge porn and the web sites themselves are given broad immunity for civil liability under federal law.
8News tracked down a man who admits to posting nude photos of a former girlfriend on a revenge porn site.
"There was nothing legally wrong with that," the man said.
While dodging questions about the morality of his actions, he's correct about revenge porn's legality - at least for now.
Delegate-elect Simon just introduced legislation that would make it a class 1 misdemeanor to disseminate or sell someone's nude or partially nude image with "the intent to cause substantial emotional distress."
"We need to take some action now get ahead of this problem create a deterrent," Simon says.
State lawmakers will vote on this revenge porn legislation during the General Assembly session which begins in January.
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
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