TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (WSVN) - A Florida senator who survived a traumatizing experience wants to turn her pain into purpose to help others after becoming a victim once again.
She’s been a lifelong advocate for victims of sex crimes, but a recent experience gave her a new drive and a new enemy.
“Members, when it comes to digital sex crimes, the law simply has not caught up with the technology,” said State Senator Lauren Book, D.-FL, to fellow legislators.
And for Book, this is personal.
“Unfortunately, this is something that I have come to understand intimately,” said Book.
Book hasn’t been shy about her past, telling the story about how she was sexually abused by her nanny for six years when she was a child.
She channeled the pain into a lifetime of helping other abuse survivors, and after years of working hard to heal herself and restore her life, she found herself a victim again.
“Never in a million years could I imagine that once again I would be a victim of a sex crime,” said Book. “On February 12th, after dropping my two young children off at school, I found myself in a waking nightmare, receiving messages and images on my phone from an unknown number in an effort to intimidate, terrorize and extort me and my family.”
Police began an investigation.
“Despite the incredible work of FDLE agents, a successful sting operation, which resulted in one arrest and an ongoing investigation, I became the victim of digital hacking, cyber stalking, image-based sexual abuse and the creation and sale of something called deep fakes, which will never, ever go away,” said Book.
An arrest was eventually made last December.
Nineteen-year-old Jeremy Kamperveen of Plantation was caught and cuffed after an undercover sting and hit with a slew of charges.
Tuesday, a bill filed by Book to tackle this sort of thing got its first committee hearing.
“The bill would transform the way Florida would prosecute what I like to call cyber-trafficking, where the likeness of predominantly women and girls, both real and stolen images and created deep fakes alike are being uploaded to the darkest corners of the internet for people to buy, sell, trade and use however else they see fit,” said Book.
It would strengthen Florida’s Revenge Porn Law by making it a felony to steal sexually explicit images from someone’s phone or other digital devices.
It would also make disseminating altered or created sexually explicit images, known as deep fakes, a felony.
It would go a long way to empowering victims against their abusers.
“Worst of all, because these actions are not illegal, or because they are currently classified as misdemeanors, it is very, very difficult, nearly impossible for victims to fight back,” said Book.
The bill jumped the first hurdle to becoming law passing committee earlier Tuesday, unanimously.
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