By Beth Lawrence

 

A local man accused of revenge porn could face time in prison.

Paul Nathaniel Murray, 34, of Sylva was arrested for felony disclosure of private images for releasing images of a Jackson County woman engaged in a sex act.

The warrant for Murray’s arrest states that sometime between Feb. 27 and March 5, he willfully disseminated an image “with the intent to harass and humiliate” the woman. The warrant alleges Murray shared the picture or video “without the affirmative consent of the victim.”

The warrant states that the woman could clearly be identified in the image. Her genitalia was exposed, and she was engaged in a sex act. Murray is also alleged to have identified the woman in the picture or video by name when he shared the image.

Disclosure of private images is a class C or class D felony and carries different imprisonment sentences depending on a number of issues, Jackson County Sheriff Chip Hall said. If convicted, Murray could be given a sentence of probation or up to six years in prison.

Murray’s next court date is Dec. 18.

 

What is revenge porn?

Simply put, revenge porn is sharing sexual or intimate images of another person, especially a past lover, on the internet or through texts without consent, Hall said. 

Revenge porn is not a new phenomenon. “Hustler” porn magazine had a similar segment in the 1980s. People were allowed to share nude photos and details about the woman in the pictures.

Larry Flynt publications faced a number of lawsuits from women who said they had not given permission to publish their photos and personal information. 

In 2010, revenge porn joined the digital era. Hunter Moore, who made his living on the internet, created the website “Is Anyone Up?”

The website showed nude photos and videos of people sometimes involved in sex acts. But Moore did not stop there. He and his team linked the images to the victims’ social media pages. Moore was also accused of hacking people’s social media accounts to access some of the images. Other victims said the material Moore shared came from ex-lovers who sent them to out of revenge after the breakup. This gave rise to the term revenge porn.

The FBI investigated Moore and shut down the website in 2012. In 2015, Moore was sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison for disseminating the images.

Nearly every state in the country now has some form of revenge porn law on its books, according to Business Insider magazine. South Carolina, Mississippi, Massachusetts and Wyoming do not. 

North Carolina’s version took effect in December 2015.

North Carolina General Statute 14-190.5A defines revenge porn, or disclosure of private images, as when a person, “ knowingly discloses an image of another person with the intent to coerce, harass, intimidate, demean, humiliate, or cause financial loss to the depicted person, or cause others to coerce, harass, intimidate, demean, humiliate, or cause financial loss to the depicted person.”

If the person in the photos “is identifiable from the disclosed image or from information offered in connection with it, (if) the depicted person’s intimate parts are exposed or the depicted person is engaged in sexual conduct in the disclosed image” and if they are shared without explicit consent of the person in the picture or video and if the offender knew the victim had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

 

Common sense

The best way to protect oneself against revenge porn is not to take compromising pictures and videos. 

“Common sense applies here,” Hall said. “Don’t take them. That way you don’t wind up a victim. And definitely don’t distribute them is the best advice I could give.”

If the images already exist, do not share them with anyone, not even someone you trust at the moment because alliances can change.

“If you do become a victim, immediately notify your local law enforcement agency,” Hall said.

Victims can also visit www.cybercivilrights.org or withoutmyconsent.org to find resources for help.