Lack of revenge porn laws leave Missouri victims with few options

2 weeks 20 hours 23 minutes ago Tuesday, October 03 2017 Oct 3, 2017 Tuesday, October 03, 2017 5:15:00 PM CDT October 03, 2017 in News
By: Kevin Ko, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - With one picture, Lela Rice said her sexuality was stolen, her privacy was breached, and her consent was an after-thought.

“I don’t want to put naked pictures on the internet forever,” Rice said. "They took that option away from me. Now, I can never be a person who didn’t have nudes on the internet.”

She also said it was a picture she only found out about because a friend saw it first.

“I just got a text from a friend of mine that said, ‘Hey, do you follow this ‘MizzouSnaps’ account?” Rice said. “I don’t really know how Snapchat works, but somebody ran this account, anybody could send in Snapchat's of anything, and they would just upload them to the story for the public. It had a lot to do with the crazy party scene at MU, and that’s not really my cup of tea, so I didn’t know.”

Rice is referring to a Snapchat account that was commonly known as “Mizzou_Snaps.” The account had no affiliation with MU, but was popular with students in 2014. The last tweets from a Twitter account that advertises itself as the “official Twitter of Mizzou_Snaps” shows the most recent tweets to be from December 2014. Rice said her pictures were publicly displayed during that time.

“I had to add this person and go through their snap story and it’s just dozens of snaps,” Rice said. “I’m just going through all of these snaps, wondering what I’m supposed to be paying attention to, and then all of a sudden, there I am.”

“I was just baffled and mortified,” Rice said. “You were constantly making sure everything was okay, so why stop here?”

Rice said that disregarding her consent made her feel powerless.

“My sexuality is something that I can choose to share with anybody that I want to, but when they broadcast it on the internet, that’s something I don’t want to do,” Rice said.

Rice also said a combination of fear and public shame led her to not take any action or alert authorities.

“I’m just kind of a timid person when it comes to things like authority,” Rice said “It’s really hard not to be embarrassed about how we got here, how this situation even came to pass. It’s not something that I want to talk about over and over to cops and my parents. I think it’s an issue a lot of victims can face.”

Even if Rice did pursue legal action, her options would have been (and still are) limited. Law experts say some victims of non consensual pornography can rely on legislation like anti-cyberbullying laws. 

"There are cyber harassment laws that are often triggered by revenge porn,” Dean of MU School of Law Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky said. “There are laws, like extortion laws, that are sometimes triggered by revenge porn.”

“I don’t think people understand how common it is to share intimate photos, especially with younger people,” Lidsky said.

Several studies show how common sharing explicit photos is, specifically non-consensual. A study released last month by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative shows that 12.8% of participants reported having had a sexually-explicit image of themselves shared without their consent or have been threatened with such actions.

A report by the Data and Society Research Institute and the Center for Innovation Public Health showed that about 10.4 million Americans were threatened or victimized by revenge porn in 2016.

Barnett says a lack of specific legislation against non consensual distribution of sexually-explicit images limits the actions a victim can take.

“Sometimes the conduct can be hard to get at with existing laws,” Barnett said. "If it’s a one time thing instead of a pattern of behavior, it’s much harder to show that it’s cyber harassment. So something specifically targeted at putting up non consensual pornographic photos on the Internet is a worthwhile endeavor.”

Some state legislators, such as Rep. Jim Neely, agree. He sponsored House Bill 705, which “creates the offense of non consensual dissemination of private sexual images.” The bill was first introduced this past January and is currently pending.

Other states have already gotten a head start. 34 states and the District of Columbia already have laws in place that specifically protect against victims revenge porn.

Rice said she hopes Missouri follows in the footsteps of states that have passed laws protecting other victims.

“It’s not okay to, I don’t know, take control of someone’s sexuality like that,” Rice said. “I absolutely think that it should be illegal.”

Barnett also said that a lack of specific laws should not deter victims of revenge porn from alerting authorities. She said that victims should contact their local police department immediately after any incidents and seek legal advice.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - One local business is helping raise money to donate to the Virgin Islands after Hurricanes Irma and Maria... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 7:05:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia is one of the top locations to start a small business, according to a 2016 Forbes list... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 6:57:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - City Manager Mike Matthes and his staff released a report Monday at the city council meeting on the... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 6:01:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – The Columbia Police Department is proposing changes to the standing alarm system ordinance. The first reading will... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 3:41:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The House Ethics Committee took the first steps in disciplinary proceedings toward Rep. Warren Love, R-Osceola after... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 3:31:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – People gathered at Columbia’s Planned Parenthood on Monday for a counter-protest against abortion opponents and the 40 Days... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 2:44:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Harry S. Truman VA Hospital invited behavioral health experts and local organizations to the 2017 Mental Health and... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 2:41:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
MEXICO - A 27-year-old man died after his car collided with a dump truck in Mexico, Mo. According the... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 2:32:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is headed to the United Kingdom and Switzerland on his second trade... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 2:02:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – If you passed Erifnus Caitnop on the road, you probably did not give it a second look. The... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 1:57:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
CARUTHERSVILLE (AP) — Authorities are searching for two inmates who escaped Sunday from the Pemiscot County jail. The... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 1:53:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA- At Monday’s meeting, the Columbia City Council will discuss how to proceed with the development of land donated to... More >>
1 day ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 1:41:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - A woman charged with voluntary manslaughter in a shooting death pleaded guilty on Monday. Police arrested Monique... More >>
2 days ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 1:02:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
O'FALLON (AP) — Authorities say a school bus and car have collided in suburban St. Louis, sending five students and... More >>
2 days ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 1:00:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - One man is in jail after authorities said he broke in to Goldstar Recycling in Jefferson City... More >>
2 days ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 12:43:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Many law enforcement agencies equip their officers with body cameras to record interactions with the public. But body... More >>
2 days ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 12:17:00 PM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Teal-colored pumpkins are appearing on more porches as part of a national effort to make the... More >>
2 days ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 11:41:00 AM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
POPLAR BLUFF (AP) — Authorities say three teenagers have been killed and another injured in a southeast Missouri crash. ... More >>
2 days ago Monday, October 16 2017 Oct 16, 2017 Monday, October 16, 2017 10:36:00 AM CDT October 16, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 69°
2pm 72°
3pm 73°
4pm 73°
5pm 72°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

1:00p
Days of Our Lives
2:00p
The Dr. Oz Show
3:00p
Dr. Phil
1:00p
Maury
2:00p
Maury
3:00p
The Robert Irvine Show

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
The Blacklist
8:00p
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
9:00p
Chicago P.D.
7:00p
Riverdale
8:00p
Dynasty
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld