Sometimes choices made in private do not stay private. But two bills that took effect on July 1 give Hoosiers the legal right to maintain a very intimate portion of their privacy.
Indiana Senate Bill 243 makes it a misdemeanor crime to distribute someone's intimate images without their consent, and Bill 192 allows victims to sue the distributor for monetary damages.
Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, said he attempted to get Bill 243 passed for two years before it was approved in 2019. Freeman based Indiana's bill off of similar bills that passed in other states, specifically Arizona.
"It goes without saying, this is critically important," Freeman said.
According to Bill 243, it is illegal in Indiana to distribute any images depicting a sexual act on the internet without the consent of the person pictured. This includes intimate photos originally sent by the victim and photos taken without the victim's knowledge or permission. It is not illegal for consenting adults to send intimate images, but it is illegal to forward someone else's without consent.
Freeman said Sen. Mike Bohacek, R-Michiana Shores, promoted Bill 192, which allows victims of non-consensual pornography to sue a defendant for up to $10,000.
"$10,000," Freeman said. "Is that worth someone's reputation?"
Dayo Lees was one of the first people to be arrested on charges of distribution of an intimate image in Indiana. Lees was charged with a misdemeanor July 15 in Clark County after posting intimate images of himself and an ex-girlfriend on Snapchat.
Freeman said first-time offenders could be charged with a misdemeanor, face up to a year in jail and have to pay $5,000 criminal fine. A second-time offender would be charged with a felony.
Indiana is currently one of 46 states with non-consensual pornography laws.
"Our latest information indicates that Massachusetts; Mississippi; South Carolina; and Wyoming do not have NCP laws," said Michelle Gonzalez, executive director of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, in an email to the Indiana Daily Student.
The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative is a nonprofit organization providing services for victims of online abuse and advocating for technological, social and legal change.
Victims of non-consensual pornography must first assess their level of danger and decide if they need to contact law enforcement, Gonzalez said in an email. If a victim is interested, they can use the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative website to find and contact someone on the list of low-cost and pro-bono attorneys.
The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative encourages victims to document any distribution of non-consensual intimate images as criminal evidence, Gonzalez said in an email.
Freeman said he believes defendants are often attempting to ruin a victim's life by distributing non-consensual pornography, and that it is unnecessary, silly and can be life-altering.
"I frankly think it's ridiculous, and it drives me crazy," Freeman said.