State Representative Ron Maag (R-Lebanon) today offered sponsor testimony in the House Criminal Justice Committee on House Bill 53, legislation that addresses the issue of “sexting” between minors in the state of Ohio.

“Sexting” is defined as the creation, exchange or possession of a nude photograph of oneself or another individual by means of a telecommunications device. Currently, minors who participate in “sexting” by sending a photo of themselves or other minors may be charged with a child pornography felony and labeled as a sex offender.

House Bill 53 would revise Ohio law to make “sexting” a first-degree misdemeanor, and while a felony charge would not be ruled out entirely, it would still be reserved for cases in which the true intent of the crime is malicious.

“Minors need to be aware of the repercussions of their decisions and realize that the publicized cases of sexting are not isolated incidents—they can happen to anyone in any school,” said Maag. “House Bill 53 will help raise awareness while also ensuring that the punishment fits the crime. Many teens who are being labeled as sex offenders had no idea that, under Ohio law, sexting is no different than other exploits of child pornography. This bill will effectively address this gap in our law.”

This legislation is a response to increased incidents of “sexting” in Ohio. In a story that prompted national awareness among teens and families, an 18-year-old Cincinnati-area high school student committed suicide after a nude picture of her was spread throughout her school. Jessica Logan had sent the picture in a text message to her boyfriend. Today, Jessica’s mother, Cynthia Logan, continues to take Jessica’s story on a national campaign to alert teens to the implications and dangers of “sexting.”

House Bill 53 was originally introduced in April 2009 of the 128th General Assembly.


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