Aaron Coleman-related bill would create crime of sexual extortion

Titus Wu
Topeka Capital-Journal
Aaron Coleman, representative-elect of the 37th District, sits in a Democratic caucus at the Statehouse.

State Rep. Stephen Owens, R-Hesston, announced Tuesday that he has pre-filed the first bill for the 2021 legislative session.

His bill, HB 2001, would create the crime of sexual extortion and add it to the Kansas Offender Registration Act.

According to the filed bill text, sexual extortion is defined as "communicating by any means a threat to injure the property or reputation of a person, commit violence against a person, or distribute an image or video of a person that is of a sexual nature or depicts such person in a state of nudity" with the intent of or causing someone to engage in a sexual activity or produce media of a sexual nature.

Sexual extortion would be a severity level 4 or 7 felony, depending on the circumstances.

Owens mentioned incidents involving Rep.-elect Aaron Coleman, D-Kansas City, Kan., as a major reason why this bill must be passed. Coleman has been embroiled in a series of controversies, from circulating revenge porn when younger to recent alleged abuse of an ex-girlfriend to an anti-stalking order filed against him. 

"It is past time for Kansas to take a stand and protect the women of our state who are often the primary victims of sexual extortion,” said Owens in a news release. “It is of particular importance as a person who has committed this atrocious act will soon be sworn into the Kansas House. We cannot allow this kind of behavior to continue without very serious consequences.”

Currently, both Republican and Democratic members in the Kansas House have called on Coleman to resign, though it seems the representative-elect has no intention of doing so. 

The bill, however, was t inspired by Coleman. Last legislative session, the bill passed the Kansas House but died in the Senate due to a shortened session caused by COVID-19.

Coleman, when asked to comment, had none.

"I haven't had a chance to review the legislation yet so I'm going to refrain from commenting for now," he said.