A 20-year-old Dawsonville man is the first to be charged locally under a new state law that prohibits sending sexually explicit photographs without the consent of the person depicted.
According to Dawson County Sheriff's Capt. Tony Wooten, Christopher James Smith was arrested Aug. 11 for electronically sending photos to another man of a woman engaged in a sexual act without her consent.
He is charged with prohibition of nude or sexually explicit electronic transmissions, a misdemeanor.
The charge is based on a new law that took effect July 1 after overwhelmingly passing both chambers of the 2014 Georgia General Assembly.
Wooten said Smith sent the pictures Aug. 6 and 7.
Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, authored House Bill 838, which makes the electronic transmission of such photos when the intent is to harm or harass the individual in the pictures illegal.
"I have not heard if anyone else in our state has been charged with this since it went into effect July 1," he said.
Similar to "revenge pornography" laws that have been passed in other states, a person could be found guilty of intimate harassment if he or she knowingly electronically sends, transmits or posts photos in order to cause emotional distress to the person depicted.
Tanner gave several examples of what would be considered intimate harassment, from high school and college students who may have allowed a girlfriend or boyfriend to snap pictures, to married couples making videos never intended to be viewed by anyone else.
"Then, all of a sudden, years later when they're out of college about to start their career or they are no longer married to their former spouse, those pictures start popping up on pornography websites, showing up in email, it starts being distributed electronically in any way," Tanner said.
"Someone could do that and spread that and even sell that picture to websites and collect money for that picture from pornography type sites, and there would be nothing you could do about it."
The law gives law enforcement the ability to investigate claims of intimate harassment and district attorneys to prosecute cases if they meet the criteria.
"I am hopeful this law will be used to protect victims from this type of crime," Tanner said.