Blackmailing with explicit photos now a crime under new law

Threats for explicit photos now illegal

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - There are seven active cases of sexual exploitation of adults in Lee County.

Investigators said had Georgia’s new “sextortion” law been implemented earlier, they could’ve cracked down on the crime.

It's essentially a blackmail charge, that makes threatening someone to send explicit photos, a crime.

Some of those cases involve children and teens.

Investigators said it happens frequently but now they hope this law can help prevent it.

From bribes to blackmail, cases of sexual exploitation are seen throughout the digital age, and it could be impacting your children.

Lee County Sheriff’s official Shominique Mitchell said she supports a bill making it a crime to threaten someone for explicit photos.

“I think the law bringing the law in effect would be great because I have two daughters of my own and I never want them to experience anything like that,” she said.

Investigators said it’s happening more often.

Daphne Lindsey is an investigator in the Special Victims Unit at the Lee County Sheriff's Office. (Source: WALB)
Daphne Lindsey is an investigator in the Special Victims Unit at the Lee County Sheriff's Office. (Source: WALB)

“When to comes to our sexual exploiting children cases we have those constantly in Lee County that we work consistently,” said Daphne Lindsey with the Special Victims Unit at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Child pornography is already a crime.

This new law filed under an invasion of privacy makes it illegal to coerce or distribute.

“I think that has become a problem and our lawmakers have seen that become a problem,” said Lindsey.

Since the start of 2019, Lee County has seven active sexual exploitation cases.

“That’s probably a 20 percent compared to how often it’s actually happening,” Lindsey explained.

Mitchell said she knew of a case where a woman was exploited online.

Sominique Mitchell approves of the new "Sextortion" Law. (Source: WALB)
Sominique Mitchell approves of the new "Sextortion" Law. (Source: WALB)

“It was sort of like maybe she sent some pictures to him and when she didn’t do something that he wanted,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell believes those threats could lead to something worse.

“It is bad. It makes them want to do stuff to themselves, kill themselves or hurt themselves, and not feel like themselves,” said Mitchell.

Investigators said this new law should cut down on people committing the crime.

“We could’ve used this charge. Now since the crime dates are in the past we can’t use this charge. Moving forward, we will use this charge,” Lindsey explained.

Investigators said the first time someone is convicted for this crime will be a misdemeanor.

The second time will be a felony.

Many agencies are working to better understand this law, to implement it to full capacity.

The law went into effect on July 1.

Copyright 2019 WALB. All rights reserved.