HARRISBURG, September 26, 2018 – The Pennsylvania Senate today approved a bill introduced by Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) and Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) to criminalize the coercion of sexual conduct.

Senate Bill 1134, which Schwank and Vulakovich introduced earlier this year, was approved by the upper chamber, 48-0.

Sextortion occurs when sex or sexual images are demanded in lieu of money or other items with financial value. The act is recognized as a form of sexual assault and is criminalized in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Texas and Utah.

“This legislation was brought forward by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), and I was proud to join their efforts to end sexual extortion,” Schwank said. “Its use has grown in both intensity and frequency in the digital age, outpacing our current laws and mechanisms, and leaving victims without adequate recourse.”

“As a former police officer, I have seen this inexcusable and exploitive behavior,” Vulakovich said. “Too often, victims are often unable to recover from the stigma and its psychological repercussions. This legislation will create stronger punishments to help deter this cruel behavior.”

Donna Greco, PCAR’s Policy Director, applauded both senators for the legislation.

“PCAR is grateful to senators Schwank and Vulakovich for their leadership on this legislation. We applaud the senate for their unanimous passage of SB 1134 today,” Greco said. “Establishing sextortion as a crime in the commonwealth will help protect victims who too often fall through the cracks of our criminal justice system. This bill clarifies and elevates sexual extortion as the serious sex crime that it is.”

The bill moves to the House now for consideration.