Senate passes bill allowing legal action on behalf of minors injured by pornography

Senate passes bill allowing legal action on behalf of minors injured by pornography

(Nicole Boliaux, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would allow legal action to be taken on behalf of minors injured by pornography was unanimously passed by the Senate on Monday and now goes to the House.

The sponsor of SB185, Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said liability could be limited if pornography websites make a "good faith attempt" at age verification and also issue a warning that pornography is harmful to minors.

Weiler said damages would have to be proved in court. He said the bill is not intended to tell anyone what they can and can't view, but to give those who believe they've been hurt by pornography the chance to "take their best shot in court."

In response to a question on the Senate floor, Weiler said the bill would not affect "sexting," the sharing of explicit photos among minors. There was more discussion about the bill during last Friday's preliminary vote.

Then, Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said while he liked the idea behind the bill, he saw practical problems and suggested it could create a "courtroom nightmare," opening up the state to lawsuits.


"It’s a hard thing to vote against it, but I'm not really comfortable," Hillyard, an attorney, said Friday. The bill passed unanimously Friday to a final vote.

Weiler responded to Hillyard's concern by saying he's convinced the bill is on "very solid ground." He said his intent is for a number of states to pass similar legislation to put pressure on pornographers.

The bill is Weiler's latest anti-pornography measure. Last year, he received national attention for a resolution declaring pornography a public health crisis that easily passed the Legislature and was signed by Gov. Gary Herbert.

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