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Mississippi governor enacts ‘Walker’s Law’ creating criminal offense for sextortion

A bill to punish perpetrators of sextortion has been signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves.

House Bill 1196, authored by Republican Representative Rob Roberson, has been coined “Walker’s Law” in honor of Walker Montogmery, a Starkville Academy student who took his own life after being exploited by bad actors online.

The new law, which is set to go into effect beginning July 1, creates the criminal offense of sextortion in Mississippi. The law stipulates that sextortion occurs when a person intentionally threatens to release, exhibit, or distribute a private image of another person to compel or make the victim do something they do not want to, with the intent to obtain an additional private image or something else of value, such as money.

RELATED: Father of Starkville teen who committed suicide warns of dangers of sextortion scams

Also included in the newly enacted law are provisions for aggravated sexual extortion, which applies if the victim is a minor or vulnerable person, or if the victim suffers great bodily injury or death as a result of the extortion.

Those found guilty in Mississippi will face the following punishment:

First offense — up to five years in prison Second offense — up to 10 years in prison Third or subsequent offense — Up to 15 years in prison

Underage individuals convicted of sextortion in Mississippi may be legally referred to behavioral health counseling.

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