Virginia lawmaker: ‘Unwanted sexting’ should be a crime

A bill in Virginia that would criminalize “unwanted sexting” — the act of texting someone unsolicited, obscene photos — has bipartisan support and is now being considered by the commonwealth’s House of Delegates.

It comes after the legislation passed through a House committee this week on a unanimous 22-0 vote.

“The unsolicited aspect of it is important to those of us who’ve dealt with that in the past,” said Del. Kelly Convirs-Fowler, D-Virginia Beach, who introduced the legislation.

Sharing nude photos between adults is generally not illegal, but Convirs-Fowler said she was surprised to learn that texting someone a lewd photo in that way was not on the books as a crime.

She said she wants it to be treated more like indecent exposure in public.

“I know there are a lot of people who would greatly appreciate the ability to have some recourse and know that this is banned,” Convirs-Fowler said during a subcommittee hearing on the bill.

Under her legislation, violators could be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500 or both.

In an interview with WAVY-TV, Convirs-Fowler said she has received unwanted, obscene photos before because she is a real estate agent whose phone number is public.

“If someone Airdrops me a picture of their private parts, then there’s nothing in the code that says I can do anything about it,” Convirs-Fowler said. “It’s not OK, and it’s completely inappropriate.”

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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