GA's 'sexual extortion' bill set to become law on July 1

Thursday, June 27, 2019
News 12 at 6 O'Clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- In just four days, more than 100 bills will become law in Georgia.

One of them -- the sexual extortion bill -- makes it a crime to threaten someone to send explicit pictures. In many cases, teenagers are involved.

Three cases recently investigated by Marc Cappa from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office had no charges filed.

"At the time, because there was no law in place, we ultimately could not have charged them with anything,” Cappa said.

Starting Monday, sextortion is now a felony.

"We've definitely seen more and more of this,” Cappa said. “Hopefully with the passing of this new bill it will deter any new cases."

One of those cases involved a 13-year-old wrapped up in a dangerous social media challenge similar to "blue whale" or "MOMO" challenges.

"The challenges begin to escalate from there to where maybe they're stealing something and now maybe being asked to send nude photographs of themselves,” Cappa said.

The victim was coerced into sending a nude. The report says, "The subject requested for [the victim] to perform various tasks and would threaten to forward the photos to her cell phone contacts if she did not carry out the task."

Another case involved 20-year-olds.

"A local subject was reaching out to various woman via Instagram requesting to pay them for nude photographs,” Cappa said.

Investigator Cappa says the suspect harassed and threatened the victims.

The bill also makes revenge porn illegal too. Another recent case involved old nude photos between and ex-boyfriend and girlfriend.

“In an attempt to gain revenge on her, he threatened to forward the images,” Cappa said.

It's not only teenagers who are targeted. Officials say hundreds of military members have also been blackmailed for more than $500,000.

Again, the law goes into effect July 1.

Copyright 2019 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved