August 19, 2020 Top Story

Court Holds "Revenge Porn" Statute Is Constitutional

Statute criminalizes nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images

By Peter J. Murphy

Responding to a rise in “revenge porn,” Illinois enacted a statute criminalizing the nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images. A defendant contended that it violated her First Amendment rights. In People v. Austin, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the statute, finding that it survived under intermediate scrutiny and was not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad. ABA Section of Litigation leaders question the level of scrutiny applied by the court and suggest that additional guidance is required from the U.S. Supreme Court.

When a woman found and distrubted nude photos of her fiancé's affair partner, she was charged with "revenge porn"

When a woman found and distrubted nude photos of her fiancé's affair partner, she was charged with "revenge porn"

Credit: Drazen Zigic | iStockphoto by Getty Images

Charged for Distributing Pictures of Fiancé’s Sexual Partner

A woman shared an iCloud account with her fiancé and could see her fiancé’s text messages. She saw messages between her fiancé and the neighbor with whom he was having an affair, including nude photographs of the neighbor. After the parties called off their engagement, the fiancé told friends and family it was because the woman was crazy. In response, the woman distributed a letter setting forth her version of events and copies of the text messages and nude photographs. Her fiancé contacted the police. The woman was then charged under the state’s “revenge porn” statute.

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