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Bill to allow suing porn distributors for harm to minors advances

First Published      Last Updated Mar 08 2017 03:52 pm

Utah could become the first state to allow lawsuits against pornographers for damage to minors — including seeking reimbursement for any therapy expenses.

SB185 is on the way to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature or veto after the House passed it 50-8 on Tuesday. The Senate then concurred with House amendments, after previously passing the bill 26-0.

The House debate on Tuesday lasted only 90 seconds.

Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, the House sponsor of the bill, said, "This is an effort to hold those who are profiting from the harm [of pornography] accountable for the damages that are done."



The bill creates a civil action against pornography distributors and others for mental or physical damage to minors.

But SB185 would also offer immunity to those distributors who make a good-faith effort to verify a viewer's age and prominently display a content warning about the dangers of pornographic material.

The bill is a sequel to a resolution last year that declared pornography to be a "public health crisis."

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, sponsor of last year's bill and the sequel said last week, "I still get mocked and scorned every day on social media."

Legislators who are lawyers warned in committee hearings it would be tough to win lawsuits allowed by the bill because of requirements to prove damages.

Weiler conceded earlier they would be difficult. But he said litigation against the tobacco industry started similarly, and over decades helped the public to realize the health risks of smoking.

 

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