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Arizona law on revenge porn to be permanently blocked

PHOENIX (AP) — A 2014 state law that makes it a crime for jilted lovers to post nude photos of their former partners online will be permanently blocked from enforcement under an agreement between the American Civil Liberties Union and Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed in court Thursday.

The agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix includes a proposed order that will prevent prosecutors from ever enforcing the law. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton must still sign off on the deal.

Bolton blocked enforcement last year after the ACLU sued, pending changes made by the Legislature. The revised bill by Republican Rep. J.D. Mesnard failed to make it out of both chambers.

The ACLU challenged the 2014 law as unconstitutional, saying it was so broad it criminalized booksellers, artists, news photographers and even historians. Among the examples of acts they said would be criminalized by the law would be a college professor’s use of a Pulitzer Prize-winning Vietnam war photo of a burned and nude little girl running from her bombed village.

Lee Rowland, the lead ACLU attorney, said she was pleased the state agreed to the deal. She declined further comment because Bolton hadn’t formally accepted the agreement.

The state agreed to pay the ACLU’s attorney fees.

Mesnard pushed the bill through the Legislature last year in an effort to give prosecutors tools to go after people who try to embarrass former lovers with personal photos after they break off relationships. He worked in the 2015 session to revise the law to overcome the ACLU’s objections, but the final version died along with many other bills on the last night of the Legislative session.

He said Thursday that he intends to revive that bill when the Legislature reconvenes in January. He said he was reluctant to rewrite the original bill but did so to get protection in place for victims as quickly as possible.

“The unfortunate reality is, if you narrow it down you reduce the number of people you can help,” Mesnard said. “So it was that, or face months or years bogged down in the courts not doing anybody any good. So I opted for the practical solution.”

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