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Sexual extortion will be considered a criminal act in California

Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), right, authored SB 500. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), right, authored SB 500. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Sexual extortion will be considered a criminal act in California under legislation signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown. 

SB 500, by Sen. Connie Levya (D-Chino), will add coercion involving sexual acts and sexually explicit images — known as "sextortion" — to the state's extortion laws. 

“The Governor’s signature of SB 500 tells sextortion victims that they matter and that they absolutely deserve to be able to receive justice in a court of law," Leyva said in a statement. 

Perpetrators of sextortion obtain private images by hacking into victims' computers or smartphones to demand sex or more images, she said. 

About 78% of sextortion victims are girls with an average age of 15, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 

The bill will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. 

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