INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The scandal surrounding New York Congressman Anthony Weiner has brought new attention to the practice of sexting and one Indiana state Senator sees this as a "teaching moment."
What Weiner did, sending lewd photos to another adult, is not against the law. If similar transactions involve a juvenile it can be a felony in Indiana, but the law will soon change. It's becoming more lenient.
"I've always been worried about this issue with kids," said Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis), "and now we've got to worry about a congressman."
Merritt helped create Indiana's sexting law, and while it wouldn't apply to Weiner, Merritt said the scandal creates an opportunity for public education.
Merritt was recently motivated by a case out of Ohio. A young woman named Jesse Logan sent a nude photo to a boyfriend, who sent it to the entire school after they broke up. She committed suicide.
The message to Merritt was that sexting ruins lives, and this year he championed changes that will make laws more lenient as a result.
"Why? Because this is a mistake, and in current law if they make that mistake felony charges can be filed," he said. "And if you're convicted of a felony in this area, it's child pornography and you can be placed on a sex offender registry. It will follow you for the rest of your life. I believe there are other ways to correct mistakes that are one-time mistakes."
Congressman Weiner's mistake may well follow him for the rest of his life. But starting July 1 that won't be the case for some young adults in Indiana.
If someone is caught sexting repeatedly, the penalties from the old law would still apply.
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