Texas woman awarded $1.2bn in revenge porn case

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Stock image of a courthouse in TexasImage source, Getty Images

Image caption,

The woman’s ex-boyfriend shared intimate photos of her online, as well as with her friends and family, without her consent

A Texas jury has awarded a woman $1.2bn (£944m) after ruling that she was the victim of revenge porn.

The woman, who was named only by the initials DL in court documents, filed a harassment lawsuit against her former boyfriend in 2022.

The suit alleged that he posted intimate pictures of her online to “publicly shame” her after a break-up.

Her lawyers in the case said the settlement is a win for victims of “image-based sexual abuse”.

“While a judgment in this case is unlikely to be recovered, the compensatory verdict gives DL back her good name,” said Bradford Gilde, the lead trial lawyer, in a statement.

The lawyers had originally asked the jury for $100m in damages.

“We hope the staggering amount of this verdict sends a message of deterrence and prevents others from engaging in this despicable activity,” Mr Gilde added.

According to ccourt documents, the woman and her former boyfriend began dating in 2016.

The woman had shared intimate photos of herself with the defendant during the relationship. After a break-up in 2021, he is accused of having posted the photos on social media platforms and adult websites without her consent.

He allegedly sent links of the photos to her friends and family through a publicly accessible Dropbox folder.

He was also accused of having access to her phone, social media accounts and email, as well as to the camera system at her mother’s home, which he used to spy on her.

At one point, the defendant allegedly sent the woman a message: “You will spend the rest of your life trying and failing to wipe yourself off the internet. Everyone you ever meet will hear the story and go looking. Happy Hunting.”

Lawyers for the woman claim her former boyfriend posted the pictures “to inflict a combination of psychological abuse, domestic violence and sexual abuse”.

He did not show up in court and did have an attorney to represent him, according to US media reports.

He was ordered to pay the woman $200m for past and future mental anguish, as well as $1bn in exemplary damages.

High settlements have been reached in US revenge porn cases in the past. In 2018, a California woman was awarded $6.8m after her former partner shared explicit photographs of her on porn sites.

DL told a Texas broadcaster that after receiving little assistance from local police she turned to a civil attorney.

In 2016, around 10 million Americans reported being victims of non-consensual – or revenge – porn. Many of them are women aged 18 to 29, according to a study at the time by the Data & Society Research Institute.

All US states, with the exception of Massachusetts and South Carolina, have anti-revenge porn laws in place.

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