News Brief: Unsolicited Pictures

Sending sexually explicit pictures is a newly defined offense under Texas criminal law.

Texas state lawmakers passed House Bill 2789 which bans sending sexually explicit material without consent. The law went into effect on Sept. 1. Under this ban, sending unsolicited pictures is now a misdemeanor that is punishable with a fine of up to $500. This ban gives Trinity students more options to take their cases further than Trinity.

Sending these types of non-consensual pictures has always been against Trinity policy.

“It would’ve already been a violation of the Trinity sexual misconduct policy, so that part is not new. It’s my responsibility to let people know about the sexual misconduct policy,” said Angela Miranda-Clark, Title IX coordinator. “I’m not sure how much that extends to letting them know about criminal law. That’s not really the same thing. The criminal process is separate from the administrative process. I hope that people learn about this because it has much more serious implications now than it did before. I want people to be aware of that so they don’t get in trouble.”

This newly defined offense does not change anything about the current Trinity policy.

“We have a policy on sexual exploitation, and that would be covered underneath there which is the non-consensual sharing of things so it is broadly enough written yet specific enough to where it is covered,” said David Tuttle, dean of students.

The sanctions for breaking this policy are wide-ranging.

“We have guidelines for various violations, but there can be various circumstances that affect the sanctions. Any student found responsible for violating the policy provisions on sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, stalking or retaliation will likely receive one of the following sanctions: warning, general warning, probation, probation with suspension of privileges, suspension or expulsion. So it really runs the whole gamet compared to other ones that start with suspension or expulsion,” Tuttle said.

The main takeaway from the newly defined criminal offense is that it gives students more options.

“I don’t think it really has any impact on how we do things because it’s not going to change how we do things. I think it may give students more options to take things off-campus and give them leverage and I think that’s important.” Tuttle said.

This newly defined criminal offense is something all students should know about.

“I just want Trinity students to be careful and not get in trouble. Make absolutely sure that before you send these pictures that you have permission to do so. And to protect yourself that permission should probably be in writing because it’s going to be hard to prove a verbal conversation,” Miranda-Clark said.

Additional reporting by Lindsay Morgan.