Skip to comments.A Victim Speaks: Standing Up to a Revenge Porn Tormentor
Posted on 05/03/2013 10:05:47 AM PDT by MaelstormEdited on 05/03/2013 10:11:38 AM PDT by Admin Moderator. [history]
On a drizzly evening in Tampa in 2006, 23-year-old Holly Jacobs was enjoying a typical date night with Ryan Seay, her boyfriend of a few short months. As the time to head home approached, he walked her to her car and reluctantly kissed her goodbye. She clung dreamily to the sweater Mr. Seay had given her earlier in the evening, when shed said she was cold. As her car pulled out of Mr. Seays driveway, she noticed it: a little heart that he had traced in the raindrops collected on her rear windshield.
Years later, when theyd finally broken it off for good, Ms. Jacobs, now 29, says that Mr. Seay did the unthinkable: He uploaded naked photos of her to the web. Photos that shed sent to him in confidence. He allegedly posted them to scores of revenge porn sites, online hubs where scorned exes publish intimate photos without their former lovers consent. She says he attached her name, email address and a screenshot of her Facebook profile to the nude photos along with commentary about what a slut she was. Knowing that she was working as a Teaching Assistant at a local university, he allegedly uploaded a video of her masturbating with the title Masturbation 201 by Professor Holli Thometz.
Ms. Jacobs, who legally changed her name from her birth name Holli Thometz following the abuse, is just one of an untold number of women who have been victimized by revenge porn, as hackers and scorned exes have posted nude pictures of them without their consent. But victims, at first afraid to speak out, are beginning to fight back against the distributors, proprietors and site hosts who comprise the revenge porn economy. In January, more than 23 women signed on to a class action suit in Texas against the revenge porn website Texxxan.com and its host GoDaddy.com. In Florida, where Ms. Jacobs lives, a law was recently proposed that would make the distribution and hosting of revenge porn a felony before last-minute amendments were tacked on and the bill was sidelined to temporary postponement, according to sources familiar with the situation.
To date, New Jersey is the only state with a viable revenge porn law on the books, and it stems from the infamous 2010 case of Rutgers student Tyler Clemente. The statute, 2C:14-9, makes it illegal for anyone to disclose any photograph, film, videotape, recording or any other reproduction of the image of another person whose intimate parts are exposed or who is engaged in an act of sexual penetration or sexual contact, unless that person has consented to such disclosure.
On Thursday April 18th, Ms. Jacobs became the first person in Florida to ever sue an ex for their alleged distribution of revenge pornography, according to her lawyer, Patrick McGeehan. She filed a civil suit in Miami-Dade County against Mr. Seay for invasion of privacy, public disclosure of private facts and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The suit (embedded below) alleges that Mr. Seay published pornographic images and a video of the plaintiff as well as the plaintiffs name, occupation, details about her schedule and other personal and private facts about the plaintiff on various websites.
Lawyers and victims across the country are now looking to her case as a model in the ongoing legal battle against revenge porn. After years of hiding in shame after her naked body was splashed across the web without her consent for strangers to ogle, she is finally coming forward to speak about her experiences. And for the first time, shes using her real name.
On New Years Day 2009, Ms. Jacobs received a call from a friend who frantically told her she needed to log on to Facebook and change her password: someone had changed her typically harmless profile picture to a naked photo of her. When she logged on, the photo was gone. Emotionally rattled, she called and accused Mr. Seay, since he was the only person she had sent nude photos to, but he flat out denied it.
From that day on I Googled my name regularly just because I knew he was capable of this, she said.
Several months later, Ms. Jacobs was Googling herself at Florida International University where she was working as a statistical consultant, and came across a cache of her naked photos on the website amihotornotnude.com. I must have just turned white, she said. My stomach just dropped and I felt ill and I told my boss, I have a personal issue that I need to go take care of and I ran out of there.
This time, her full name had been published alongside the photos. And there were tons of them.
DSC00586Images kept cropping up, even as Ms. Jacobs scrambled to have webmasters scrub the photos from scores of sites. Even stranger, they seemed to multiply, as if he was Photoshopping and cropping the images to make it appear like there were more of them. Then the threats began.
Someone created a Yahoo address in her name and emailed her a collection of her photos. Get in touch concerning your pictures. Theres also a nice video, the person wrote in an email timestamped 6:50 a.m. Have [they] seen them? Pasted below were the email addresses of Ms. Jacobs coworker and boss. Ms. Jacobs was terrified, but decided not to respond and eventually fell back to sleep. At 8:16 a.m., Ms. Jacobs received another email: Its 8:15 where you are. You have until 8:37 to reply. Then I start the distribution.
That day, the anonymous person who had established an email address in her name sent the photos to her boss and coworker. Three days later, he had uploaded them to scores of revenge porn sites. Her photos went viral.
Ms. Jacobs enlisted the help of a local counsel named David Seltzer, but the anonymous individual, whom Ms. Jacobs believes to be her ex, continued to torture her. Someone anonymously tipped off the universitys HR department that a professor is masturbating for her students and putting it online, explained Ms. Jacobs. The call landed her in the deans office, left to explain the embarrassing incident. The aftermath eventually led her to quit her job.
Though shed called the local police when the abuse first started, they told her that because she was over 18 when the photos were taken, there was nothing they could do for her. The campus police at her university took a report and sent it to the state attorneys office, but they refused to pick up her case. So Ms. Jacobs worked tirelessly to try to scrub the images of herself from the web. She filed DMCA takedown requests and created sites with positive information about herself in an attempt to push her pictures lower in search results.
I worked like a dog getting all of them down, she admitted. I got them all down except for some of the torrents. Within two weeks they went right back up on other sites.
By February of 2012, Ms. Jacobs had had enough. She had lost years of her life fighting to erase the online pornographic trail her tormentor had created for her without her permission, and she was done. I realizedthis is what he wants me to do, Ms. Jacobs told Betabeat via Skype. He wants me to spend all of my time taking down my Google results instead of moving on with my life and being free and being in a good relationship and getting my Ph.D. So I essentially said, **** it.
I felt like the only thing I could do was part from that identity that had been completely defamed and I wanted to just get on with my life, Ms. Jacobs said.
One night the idea struck her to create End Revenge Porn, an online hub for victims and advocates to discuss revenge porn. She connected with women like professors Mary Anne Franks and Danielle Citron, former politician Charlotte Laws and lawyers Erica Johnstone and Colette Vogele, experts in the field who helped her hone her message. She also formed an unofficial support group with two other victims, Hollie Toups and Jane, the pseudonymous woman behind Women Against Revenge Porn. Now Ms. Jacobs site, End Revenge Porn, is one of the most prominent platforms for resources for revenge porn victims, and Ms. Jacobs is working on establishing it as a non-profit. Through the site, shes also collecting donations to help fund her anti-revenge porn efforts.
But the reign of terror continued for Ms. Jacobs even as her taste for activism grew. In August of 2012 she was supposed to present her thesis at a conference for the American Psychological Association when someoneshe believes it was Mr. Seaypublished the date, time and location of the conference, alongside her naked photos. They even had a summary of what my presentation was going to be on, she explained. They said something like why dont you go check her out and see if shell have sex with you for money because shes obviously out of a job.
DSC00580 - Version 2For Ms. Jacobs, that was the final straw. She backed out of the conference, saying her safety was in danger, and was possessed with a renewed fervor to have her case picked up by the police. Alongside her mother, the duo charged Senator Marco Rubios office, a move that eventually led her to meet with the Florida State Attorneys office. I went to that meeting and there were six people around the table and I just started crying because I was like, finally somebody is going to do something about this, she said. And it was just a huge wave of relief.
A few weeks ago, Ms. Jacobs received word that a state attorney would take the case and charge Mr. Seay with cyberstalking, the first time a victim has ever filed a criminal suit against her ex for distributing revenge porn. Mark Cox, chief of investigations at the Florida state attorneys office, told Betabeat that the office has filed a case to charge Mr. Seay with one count stalking, two counts harassment by use of personal identification info and one count unlawful publication. The case is set for arraignment on June 3rd, and Mr. Seay faces a maximum penalty of four years in jail. Mr. Seay declined to speak with Betabeat, but his attorney, Charles Arline, said that Mr. Seay denies all allegations and maintains that he is just as much of a victim in this as Ms. Jacobs is.
Im coming out because Im tired of hiding, Ms. Jacobs said. Im tired of not knowing which name to give to who in my life. I want to live an honest life. As the first person to file a criminal complaint against her ex, Ms. Jacobs will undoubtedly become a lightning rod for the controversy revolving around revenge porn, and she wants to set an example for other victims who are struggling to find a way to put their lives back together.
The fact that Holly is able to experience what shes experienced and use that to fight struck me as impressive, Mary Anne Franks, a law professor at the University of Miami who specializes in cyberharassment, told Betabeat by phone. The experience is so disturbing and depressing I cant imagine she could have the energy and courage to do what shes doing.
Still, Ms. Jacobs has a long way to go. Shes been working with lawmakers in Florida to pass a bill that would make publishing revenge porn without a victims consent a third-degree felony. The bill received an onslaught of initial support, but its debate in the House has been temporarily postponed. Ms. Jacobs hopes coming forward will help give lawmakers the extra push they need to put a revenge porn law on the books.
I hope that Ill set an example and show this is how you overcome this: by coming forward, she said. Youre not exposing yourselfyoure already exposed on the internet. Instead, youre exposing what is happening to you. Everybodys going to see me naked, and everybodys going to see me do things I never wanted anybody to see except the person I was with. But if its in the name of the cause and to change the laws about this, then Im happy to do it. Were all naked underneath our clothes.
If you want to contact Holly about her story, you can reach her at endrevengeporn[at]gmail[dot]com.
Double mind here......the guy is a sicko, and she was really stupid to take the pictures in the first place.
If you take naked pix of yourself, they will end up on the internet.
Yes this is horrible and yes, he's an A-hole, and yes, it should stop. But . . . . if she was stupid enough to email naked pictures of herself and videos of herself masturbating, I don't have much sympathy. The real lesson here is don't be stupid enough to think that racy pictures you email to people won't end up in the public domain.
Moral of the story: NO NAKED PIX OR VIDEOS!
It IS horrible, what’s happened to her. But one can’t help but think that there was one really, really simple way this situation could have been avoided.......
I can’t make my usual “I’d Hit It” comments.
But that being said, the woman was monumentally foolish to share nude shots of herself - “selfies”, as they’re called. Let her stand as a cautionary tale.
I agree but people in love are even more likely to do stupid things. :-)
LOL. And when you are about to get divorced or break up, they look even more stupid. In fact, at that point they look incredibly stupid.
Finding a unique way to make a living with porn. Some people have real problems.
Sheez this guy needs to move on. What a loser.
You are right and truthfully once something is digital it can be intercepted and distributed so easily. It really could’ve been any number of people. All it takes is a nosey friend with a USB drive or some guy fixing your computer and tada you get to be the “Naked Professor”.
Here’s something else. If you have compromising photos on one devise and your child has another devise also registered to you, and the devises are synched, by you or the child or a hostile ex, guess where all those photos go?
Yes definitely foolish. It may be “fun” to get those type of pics from your lady but it isn’t wise. It makes me feel a bit old. The first time a lady sent me a naked pic was snail mail when I was 17. I’d met her on Prodigy at 2400 baud. lol
“Acts of capitalism between consenting adults.”
She didn’t consent to have her pictures put up on the web. He either needs to make restitution, or he needs to go to jail.
Quoted for truth.
That is a cynical way to look at it. I was wondering why someone who changed their name to get beyond this suddenly decided to go on a publicity tour. I suppose she figures she might as well get her own form of revenge ala moolah.
And to think we sent Neil and Buzz to the moon on 2400 baud.
Today, NASA reaches out to Muslims.
I hope he does at least some time in jail.
She should sue the sites for big $$$$.......
The unfortunate thing is it could’ve been someone else. I suspect it was him but the truth is it could’ve been some guy who worked on her computer or another boyfriend altogether who had access to her computer. Once something is digital unless you keep it on a usb drive in a safe deposit box its vulnerable.
She grew up in this era, is a part of this era, she knows that males and females of this era do not have the rules of protecting a ladies honor, a girl’s reputation, etc, of girls not having sex with their boyfriends, or not giving them pornographic pictures of themselves.
She was badly wronged, terribly, but it isn’t like she is a girl of 1960 that a time machine suddenly dropped into the culture of 2010, for instance, the porn photos were created by her and given to the guy.
Oh there are LOTS of pictures and video unfortunately.
As others have noted. . .taking pics and movies is incredibly stupid.
You might want to google “Libby Hoeller”: college girl who did a number of videos for her then-boyfriend. Later, the videos got out (no idea how) and went viral. That was 10+ years ago. It’s STILL going around. . .
Yes she has responsibility and I personally wish the public prevalence of porn did not exist. Search engines are like a direct line to pornotopia and even if she manages to get the videos/pics removed from official sites they will persist for years if not decades. If she has kids she’ll have to worry about them seeing their Mom in such compromising videos/pics.
Yep. I believe in the assumption of privacy in such cases unless it can be demonstrated she sent it out and shared it in a public fashion herself.
Yeah things have certainly changed and not all for the better.
If it’s on a computer, you CAN’T assume privacy, you have to EXPECT stuff to get out.
Hence. . . .don’t put anything on the computer that you wouldn’t want a grieving wife or child to see. . .
Yep. Incredibly stupid but when people are intimate they tend to be trusting which makes them vulnerable.
I can't remotely imagine that a girl from 1960 would send naked pictures of herself, or a video of herself masturbating, to a boyfriend. This is a good example of how far we have fallen from a morals and cultural perspective. This girl was wronged but the attempts by the article to portray her as some innocent victim are laughable.
Honestly! How many years of his life did he devote to this desire to torment her?
Of course it bears repeating to not put this stuff out there to begin with, however, what this guy did after the fact needs to be stopped.
I was thinking in that direction too but then again maybe the guy is truly nuts. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that she was hacked. It could be very costly to prove.
I didn’t so much mean to point out her part like I did, as to try to express weariness at an old school guy like me who has to live in a nation of her and her boyfriends as they mock and reject my old Texas/Southern chivalry and now she wants me to be outraged.
I am kind of outraged (the guy would get the full man treatment of a pathetic, sick, creepy loser if I met him), but I am also kind of not interested in her complaints.
It isn’t like she needs the fainting couch.
Likely only a libtard will allow their naked butts in pictures anyway. So this is just another symptom of the mind disease feels good do it Liberalism.
Stop Liberalism. its the cause of all these undesirable effects that plauge our society.
I agree. I was meaning strictly from a legal standpoint. People should also expect that they can face prosecution/fines for purposely spreading intimate pictures publicly.
Yep that is true. I’m not outrages as much as I have sympathy for her but only in the sense that I don’t believe anyone should be subjected to such harassment and of course that is what it is.
For such a digitized social culture, those who post photos seem to be unable to learn from other’s experiences.
Sorry, but I can’t gen up much sympathy for being an idiot.
Surely there is some laws revenge posters break instead of the necessity to make new ones.
Lastly, there are other ways to convince a bully to either quit or quit breathing. Where are the male members of her family? That is one of our jobs!
As a kid of the 60’s, the guys in my high school went to those booths where you get 4 pix for a dollar and took pictures of themselves, doing what some guys do and passed them around school.
Or were with girls, well, doing ‘stuff’ and passed them around, ok not the internet but that was the tech at the time.
Most people at school, just that’s stupid and tossed the pix in the trash.
I do not remember any guy or gal calling attention to themselves by how offended they were and told everyone why they were offended in detail.
Yep common decency is not as common as it once was. I’m sure her mindset at the time was probably simply trying to please her boyfriend. That is where things have went off the tracks people don’t even think about doing the right thing and many women in particular have been led to believe that they have to do this kind of thing to keep bfs happy. It is largely the result of the sexual “progressive” movement.
“She didnt consent to have her pictures put up on the web. He either needs to make restitution, or he needs to go to jail.”
That argument won’t hold up, I think, or someone better shut down Facebook, faaaast.
For argument’s sake (still thinking about the legal issues on this; morally it’s a no-brainer - wrong): She gave to him a digital file specifically for his possession, i.e. ownership. That makes the photo his property with all usage rights unless otherwise noted. In this case the exemption was “understood”, but not specifically written and agreed upon.
He’s a dick, but it may not be illegal (assuming she’s over 18).
And the problem is “purposely”. Most people run Windows, which SHIPS buggy and insecure. And is easily subverted, much less people being social engineered via email, and the computer zombified and under effective control of someone at an unknown remote location.
And there’s more than enough de-facto spyware even in common apps. . . I’ve had to remove, for example, the DropBox application, simply because it tried to slurp every file on any removable media I attach to the home box. . . .
I had the same thought, but I can't figure out what that option might be. I'm sure there is something simple that would have prevented this.
How do we know only one boy had access to the pictures?
Not taking naked pictures of yourself masturbating?
This was a private exchange between adults. He violated the implied consent for private use and made it public.
Under current law, which is a friggin' mess, this may not have been illegal. By my measure, it violates "non-initiation of force, fraud, or theft" on both the fraud and theft parts. He broke contract and if he received financial gain from misusing her likeness, then this could be construed as theft as well.
My dos centavos only as I am not a lawyer. :-)
What happened to the brown paper bag?