State lawmakers propose bills to make sexual harassment a misdemeanor

State lawmakers are proposing two bills that would classify sexual harassment as a crime.
One bill calls for elevating sexual harassment to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail. The second bill would create a misdemeanor crime for slapping, striking, or kicking someone for sexual gratification.
Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright says right now harassment is a civil law. Seawright and others believe it should be a criminal offense.
"We feel very strongly that this is sending a clear message that officials must be held to a higher standard creating safer safeguards put in place for sexual harassment," says Seawright.
Seawright says the goal is to let people know that there is a definition of consent.
"So that we make it easier to prosecute these cases and we encourage victims to come out of the shadows and feel comfortable pursuing justice.," says Seawright.
Keith Scott is the director of the Safe Center. Scott says he thinks this bill would help women and men feel more comfortable in the workplace.
"I think people will be more comfortable coming forward if they know that someone is facing jail time or more serious fine because it shows the law backs them so it's really important that we have laws that back our victims," says Scott.
Past efforts to create a crime of sexual harassment have withered in Albany and other state capitals, but in recent years momentum has built back up amid the Me Too movement.
D.J. Rosenbaum, who was a victim of sexual abuse, says it's a terrific way to recognize the changing times.
The proposed bill would be the nation's first if it passes.