On Jan. 29, 2015 the FTC announced it had banned a Colorado man from operating “revenge porn” websites. Just days later, on Feb. 2, a man was found guilty in the San Diego County Superior Court on 21 identity theft counts and six extortion counts in an unprecedented California case.
Last Monday, 28 year old Kevin Bollaert was convicted of 27 felony counts for operating a revenge porn website and using a second website to charge victims to take down the private photographs. According to various reports, the California judge also declared mistrial on one conspiracy charge and one identity theft charge.
Bollaert, a former San Diego resident, operated the former UGotPosted.com “revenge porn” website from December 2012 through September 13, on which reportedly more than 10,000 private images were posted without the consent of the subjects (mostly women).
In addition to the website displaying the extremely private photos, many of the images also included the subjects’ names, hometowns, employers’ names and links to their social media accounts. As is typically the case with revenge porn websites, the majority of the photos were submitted to Bollaert’s website by ex-significant other third parties.
While UGotPosted.com was still active, the victims could seek removal of the private photos of themselves by going to Bollaert’s other website, ChangeMyReputation.com. Bollaert charged up to $350 for removal and reportedly made “tens of thousands of dollars.”
Bollaert faces up to two decades in prison as a result of the conviction, with his sentencing set for April 3.
In October 2013, California signed into law Senate Bill 255, which states:
Any person who photographs or records by any means the image of another identifiable person with his or her consent who is in a state of full or partial undress in any area in which the person being photographed or recorded has a reasonable expectation of privacy, and subsequently distributes the image taken, with the intent to cause serious emotional distress, and the other person suffers serious emotional distress.
Violating this “anti-revenge porn” law is punishable up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. A Los Angeles man became the first person convicted under this new California law in December for posting a topless photo of an ex-girlfriend to the Facebook page of her employer.
But according to the attorney general’s office, in an email sent to the Associated Press, Bollaert’s actions were perceived as far more serious and warranted a greater punishment.