ROCK HILL, S.C. (WSPA) — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster marked the passage of legislation that makes sexual extortion a crime in South Carolina Friday morning.
The governor was joined by Rep. Brandon Guffey (R-York), father of the bill’s namesake Gavin Guffey, members of the General Assembly, and other state leaders for a ceremonial bill signing of H. 3583, Gavin’s Law.
The legislation makes sexual extortion, the act of blackmailing someone using sexually explicit images or videos, a felony offense and an aggravated felony if the victim is a minor, vulnerable adult, or if the victim suffers bodily injury or death directly related to the crime.
“With the signing of Gavin’s Law, despicable criminals like the ones responsible for the Guffey family’s tragic loss will now know that they will go to jail for a very long time for preying on our state’s innocent young people,” said McMaster.
A person convicted of felony sexual extortion must be imprisoned no more than five years for a first offense, no more than ten years for a second offense, and no more than twenty years for a third or subsequent offense. A person convicted of aggravated felony sexual extortion must be imprisoned no more than twenty years.
“This is spreading the awareness in the state of South Carolina so that all of our children are aware and all of our parents are aware,” said Guffey. “What I’m most impressed by is this community, this state, everyone who has rallied together to get this passed.”
The legislation also provides that local school districts collaborate with the State Department of Education, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, and the Attorney General’s office to implement a policy to educate and notify students of the law, which includes adequate notice to students, parents or guardians, the public, and school personnel of the change in law and the dangers of sexual extortion.
The State Department of Education must file a report on the status of the adoption and implementation of the education policies under this act to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives annually by July 1 of each year.
In 2022, 17-year-old Gavin Guffey was a victim of sexual extortion, resulting in him taking his own life.
According to the federal authorities, over 3,000 minors were victims of sexual extortion schemes in 2022.
This bill passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. It went into effect in mid-May.