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Osman described one client, who had left a physically abusive relationship only to discover her ex-partner was sharing intimate pictures and videos on social media, and was trying to share them with her new partner.
"This fit into a pattern of power and control of her ex-partner, giving him another tactic to be abusive towards her," explained Osman.
Initially, Lindsay had no idea who could have posted these private photos of her. She had broken up with her boyfriend so long before, she didn't immediately think of him as a suspect. According to Kyle Bristow of Bristow Law in Clinton Township, who has represented about three dozen women in revenge porn lawsuits, about 10 other attorneys told Lindsay there was no way to identify a suspect on a revenge porn website. But Bristow knew better. And he helped Lindsay get the images off the internet, and get even.
"I sued John Doe as a placeholder, then acquired discovery powers and sued the photographer," Bristow said. From there, he sent a subpoena to Google, who gave the phony email's registration to Bristow.
"When you create a Gmail account, you have to put in a cell phone number – which I got," Bristow said. "I used instant checkmate.com to do a reverse cell phone search, which showed who the cellphone was associated with. Google also provided us with the IP address associated with the address," which showed it was Lindsay's ex-boyfriend, a resident of Macomb County.
He then sued the ex-boyfriend, receiving a default judgement and injunctive order, meaning he must destroy all content, cannot republish it, and must remove everything published from the internet, in Oakland County Circuit Court in front of Judge Martha Anderson. Lindsay was awarded $500,000.
"She has a massive sense of relief now that the content is off the internet, and she has this judgement," Bristow said. While she hasn't received any money yet, he said the judgement can't be discharged in bankruptcy, it accrues interest, and she can apply for a writ of garnishment, and seize money in his bank account or his tax refunds to satisfy the judgement.
Revenge porn is a new category of cyber transgressions that the law, both criminal and civil, is working to catch up with. In 2013, only two states, California and New Jersey, had laws making revenge porn illegal; by the end of 2016, 34 states and the District of Columbia – including Michigan – had created laws criminalizing the posting of nude or sexual photos or videos posted online without an individual's consent. A federal law, called the Intimate Privacy Protection Act, spearheaded by Rep. Jackie Spear of California, was introduced in 2016, would have made it a crime to distribute nonconsensual pornography. It died in the last session of Congress....continued on page 3