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Minneapolis – Minnesota state Sen. Scott Dibble said Friday that he is the victim of revenge porn after a former intimate partner sent explicit images to Dibble’s colleagues, a crime that comes just days after a junior congresswoman from California stepped down in a similar situation.

In his surprise statement, Dibble revealed that for the past five months he has been harassed by “a former friend.”

“I was involved in a brief intimate and consensual relationship with this person,” wrote Dibble, a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. “When I attempted to end the relationship, I was threatened with embarrassment as this individual attempted to coerce me into continuing the relationship. My resistance to his threats was met this morning with a communication that was sent to my colleagues with what had been private photos, videos, and text messages.”

An unknown number of lawmakers received the images Friday via email attachments, DFL Caucus spokeswoman Ellen Anderson confirmed.

The man who sent those images has not been publicly identified but lives outside the U.S. and isn’t a subordinate or connected with Minnesota politics in any way.

“This has nothing to do with his legislative work and I am not aware of any plans he has to resign,” Anderson said.

Dibble, who married his husband, Richard Leyva, in 2008, asked for privacy on what he described as “one of the hardest days of both my personal and professional” life. He went on to thank his family, friends and colleagues in both political parties for their support.

“I understand there will be questions about this very personal matter, but I would like to deal with this as privately as possible,” he said.

Messages seeking additional comment were not returned.

In a sit-down interview with MPR News, Dibble characterized the relationship at issue as having been largely online. His husband has pledged to stand beside him.

“Our marriage is strong, and no act of coercion will ever break this marriage apart,” Leyva told MPR.

Minnesota outlawed revenge porn in 2016 when lawmakers passed a bill making it illegal to knowingly disseminate, sell or publish explicit sexual images of someone without their consent.

Those suspected of posting intimate photos or videos of ex-lovers on the internet can face felony or gross misdemeanor charges, as well as hefty fines from potential lawsuits.

Dibble’s disclosure comes as revenge porn continues to grow as a societal problem and shows signs of seeping into politics. First-term U.S. Rep. Katie Hill of California resigned this week following allegations that her soon-to-be ex-husband “weaponized” nude photos of her as an act of revenge. She also faced an ethics probe into sexual impropriety for allegations that she twice had sexual relationships with staffers.

In a farewell speech on the House floor Thursday, Hill railed against what she viewed as a double standard.

“I’m leaving, but we have men who have been credibly accused of intentional acts of sexual violence and remain in boardrooms, on the Supreme Court, in this very body and, worst of all, in the Oval Office,” she said.

Dibble, 54, is a fifth-term senator who was first elected to the statehouse in 2000. He may be best known for authoring the 2013 law that legalized same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

State Sen. Susan Kent, assistant minority leader in the upper chamber, learned about the explicit messages after Dibble called her Friday morning to ask if she had received one. The Woodbury Democrat, who did not get the email, condemned the spreading of graphic personal material as “really horrible.”

Dibble “does so much for so many Minnesotans,” she said. “He works so hard, he fights for people all the time, and for someone to turn around and do this after a consensual adult interaction is just really unfortunate.”

Kent called the situation “entirely personal” in nature.

“It happens that he’s a public person and so it gets attention,” she said. “But this can happen to anybody, and it has happened to a lot of people and it just shouldn’t.”

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