Why police can't file charges in Florida revenge porn case

By Caroline Rowland and Mike Westfall | Team Coverage
Posted April 01, 2015

WINTER SPRINGS -- Humiliated and betrayed — that's how a Central Florida woman says she felt when she found out her ex-boyfriend posted a sex tape of the two of them online.

The woman, whom we are not identifying to protect her privacy, said her ex posted the video on Facebook twice, leaving it up long enough for people to see, and then took it down before Facebook was notified.

"He videotaped me without my consent while we were having intercourse, posted it on my page and tagged my name on it," she said. "I was just devastated. I didn't know what to do."

The concept is known as "revenge porn," posting sexually explicit media online without the consent of those involved.

But when this victim went to police, they said they couldn't file any charges in this case.

"I called the cops right away, thinking they could help me out," she said. "When they came, they said there is no law that they know of that protects me with these social media sites."

Florida is not one of the 16 states that have laws on the books against revenge porn. Many of those states make it a felony to distribute someone else's sexually explicit photos. Some revenge porn victims have also sued by claiming their copyrights were violated.

Revenge Porn Laws in the US

 

The 16 states in which revenge porn is a crime are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

"As of right now, the only thing that revenge porn could be getting you in trouble for or arrested for [in Florida] is if the person is under 18 years old, because then you are looking at child porn," explained News 13 Legal Analyst Jaya Balani, with the NeJame Law Firm.

A bill in the Florida House (HB 151) would make revenge porn — or, as the bill refers to it, "sexual cyberharassment" — a felony. A similar bill failed to pass in 2014.

Facebook recently updated its Community Guidelines in March to explicitly ban revenge porn, saying "images shared in revenge or without permissions from the people in the images" will be removed from the social network.

Twitter also recently banned posting "intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject's consent" in its rules and policies.

But while the sex tape in this case may be off Facebook for now, the victim fears it may surface again.

"It could be all over the Web by the end of the week, and to have my name attached to it is insane," she said.

"Nothing ever really comes off the Internet," Balani said. "The next thing you know, it's on Facebook, it's on YouTube, it's being sent in text messages. Employers, co-workers, everyone can see it at that point."

Police are recommending charges against the woman's ex-boyfriend in a related matter.

Source: Channel 13 News