LETTER – Bucco introduces bill criminalizing sexual extortion of minors

Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco has introduced legislation making sexual extortion of a minor a criminal act. Perpetrators using explicit sexual images to extort victims will face three to five years in prison, a maximum $15,000 fine or both under Bucco’s bill.  

“The explosion of technology has benefitted society in so many ways. Unfortunately, there are degenerate people who use it for evil purposes,” said Bucco (R-Morris), who serves as Assembly Republican conference leader. “Sexual extortion is the newest modern day heinous behavior perpetuated often against teenagers. Understandably, victims are reluctant to report this digital blackmail due to embarrassment and fear. Criminalizing this vile behavior will put New Jersey at the forefront of addressing this troubling trend. Most importantly, it will help make its victims feel safe enough to come forward to seek justice.”

Bucco said the legislation is in response to a constituent who contacted him about the growing prevalence of the issue. The Morris County resident, Bucco said, is an attorney who represents children with mental health illnesses and noted an alarming trend among his clients who are or have been victims of digital sexual extortion.

Sexual extortion is a form of blackmail in which the payment demanded is in the form of a sexual act. The perpetrator often obtains other images or videos in which the victim is nude or performing a sexual act. They can be obtained by hacking the victim’s cell phone or other digital device.