Destroying someone’s reputation is easier than ever. Rather than spreading rumors amongst their friends one at a time, all you need now is access to the internet and you can spread lies and unflattering photos of them all over the world. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s legal.
One method of online harassment affecting women more than men is former partners posting nude photos and videos of them online when the relationship ends. In one recent case, a woman’s ex-boyfriend created fake email and social media accounts so he could share nude photos and videos of her online.
The woman, who is only listed as D.L. in the lawsuit to protect her privacy, started dating Marques Jamal Jackson in 2016 and was living with him in Chicago in early 2020 when their relationship began to fall apart. According to the lawsuit, the process of ending the relationship was long and drawn out.
D.L. temporarily moved in with her mom, who lives in Texas. Her ex allegedly began accessing the house’s security system so he could spy on her.
The relationship officially ended in the fall of 2021 and D.L. told her ex that she no longer wanted him to have access to intimate photos and videos of her.
Rather than destroying or returning all physical and digital copies of the visual material to D.L., her ex posted them on various social media sites and other websites, including a pornographic website. He also added them to a Dropbox folder that was accessible to the public. He included images of her face and identified her by name in the photos and videos. He also included her address.
Jackson then created fake social media and email accounts so he could use them to actively send these photos to D.L.’s friends and family members. On social media, he even tagged her employer and her personal gym.
The lawsuit further alleges Jackson took money from D.L.’s bank account to pay his rent and masked his phone number so he could harass her with threatening phone calls and text messages.
D.L. sued Jackson for psychological and sexual abuse. A jury found him guilty of violating Texas’ revenge porn law, which makes it illegal for people to share sexually explicit photos or videos of someone without their consent.
But not everyone likes the term “revenge porn.” Survivors of sexual abuse and the attorneys who represent them tend to avoid using the term, because they say it trivializes the crime and suggests the victims played a role in the violation of their own privacy. Instead, they prefer the term “image-based sexual abuse.”
Regardless of the term used, a Texas jury ruled in D.L.’s favor, ordering Jackson to pay her $200 million for mental anguish, both in the past and the future, plus $1 billion in punitive damages.
An attorney representing D.L. said they did not expect the full $1.2 billion to be paid, but that they hope the ruling will deter other disgruntled exes from participating in this kind of abuse in the future.
At Lubin Austermuehle, we help clients navigate the complex laws and emotionally charged pathways to a court victory or settlement in slander and libel cases, as well as a vast range of other disputes from class action suits to breach of contract. We serve clients throughout Chicagoland from Waukegan, to Skokie and beyond. You can contact us online here or call us at 630-333-0333. Take advantage of our FREE consultation, where we can discuss your specific needs and wishes and our ability to meet them.