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General Assembly: Revenge Porn, Sodomy/Rape, Day of Prayer Bills Advance

The Senate has advanced a measure to broaden the state’s rape and sodomy statutes.

House Bill 101 would expand third-degree rape or sodomy to include an adult having sex with a 16 or 17 year old if the age difference is 10 years or greater. A violation of HB 101 would be punishable by up to five years in prison. HB 101 passed the Senate Wednesday by a 34-1 vote.

Sen. Wil Schroder (R-Wilder) said HB 101 would stop an accused rapist from mounting a trial defense that the sexual intercourse was consensual when the victim was 16 or 17 and the defendant was at least 10 years older.

He asked fellow parents to image their 16-year old son or daughter being sexually involved with an adult 10 or more years older.

“This would put a stop to that,” Schroder said. “Currently, it is appalling but it is not criminal. This would make it criminal.”

Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville) stood in support of HB 101. He said 24 other states have passed similar laws in light of compelling evidence for the need.

“Children of this age demand protection,” Westerfield said.

HB 101 now goes back to the House for consideration because the Senate amended the bill.

Revenge Porn bill advances

A Senate committee advanced a bill Thursday that would criminalize “revenge porn,” a phrase used to describe sexually explicit images or videos posted online without the consent of the subject.

The measure, known as House Bill 71, would make the first offense a misdemeanor and any subsequent offenses a Class-D felony. If a defendant profited from spreading the images online, the penalties would be enhanced to a Class-D felony for the first offense and a more serious Class-C felony for subsequent offenses.

HB 71 would also pave the way for victims of revenge porn to file lawsuits against the person who posted the images. Damages would be $1,000 for each image and each day the image remained online after it was requested to be removed. Another provision would prohibit an online operator from demanding money to remove revenge porn.

Some exemptions to HB 71 would include images involving voluntary nudity in public.

Sen. John Schickel (R-Union) spoke in favor of HB 71 during the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting.

“This isn’t just a hypothetical,” he said. “This is something that happens every day.”

HB 71 passed the committee by a 6-0 vote. The measure is now before the Senate for further consideration.

Day of Prayer for students could become state law

An annual day of prayer for Kentucky’s students would become part of state law under a bill passed Thursday in the House.

House Bill 40 sponsor Rep. Regina Huff (R-Williamsburg) said the annual prayer event has been proclaimed by Kentucky’s governor the past two years. HB 40 would designate the last Wednesday of September each year as “A Day of Prayer for Kentucky’s Students” by law, and require the governor to issue an annual proclamation for the event.

Huff said that HB 40 is respectful of all faiths by asking that Kentuckians spend the day praying, meditating or reflecting “in accordance with their own faith and consciences.” Students would be allowed to participate in the event at school before the start of the instructional day.

“Their event at school will be student-initiated and conducted, and always before the start of the school day,” Huff said. 

The Kentucky event would be part of a global prayer initiative that Huff said would be held the same day.

The idea for HB 40 was raised by students in Huff’s district and others who she said “want to know that we are all united in this effort and that, on that particular day each year, we will be united with them.”

“Given all that our students are facing … Our students need to know that we are standing with them,” she said. “We all need to embrace this and be united in an effort of support in each individual’s manner of prayer for our schools, students and administrators.”

HB 40 passed on a vote of 83-5 and now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

From the Legislative Research Commission