On the Record

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Maryland outlaws ‘sextortion’

“Sextortion” will become a crime in Maryland as of Oct. 1.

The state has made it misdemeanor — punishable by up to 10 years in prison — to compel someone to perform a sexual act by threatening to accuse them of committing a crime or other disreputable act, to cause them economic damage, or to damage their property. Maryland’s current rape law prohibits coercing sex by a threat of force.

“The new law has wide-ranging applicability, including in some ‘quid pro quo’ sexual harassment cases where an offender threatens to fire or demote someone if they do not perform sexual acts,” the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault said in a statement.

In addition to a prison term, a person convicted of sextortion could be fined up to $10,000.

The House of Delegates approved the Senate-passed bill in the final 15 minutes of the 2018 General Assembly session last month, sending the legislation to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk. The governor signed Senate Bill 769 into law Tuesday.

The measure was introduced by Sen. Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin, D-Baltimore County and chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

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