In our high-tech world of Snapchat, Groupme and text messaging, individuals are often sharing intimate photos or videos with their romantic partners via cellphones. Additionally, with the prevalence of in-home security cameras, webcams, and cellphone video technology, it is easier than ever for an individual to record intimate interactions without their partner’s consent or knowledge. Even when consent is provided by both parties for the recording of such intimate interaction, there usually is not consent to share and distribute such recordings with others outside of the relationship.
Sometimes after a relationship has ended, one partner, in an attempt to shame the other, distributes without consent, sexually explicit videos to the public. They will upload these videos to a “private” website or simply share the videos with others. Both actions and forms of distribution are a possible basis for a civil action.
42 Pa.C.S.A. § 8316.1 provides a civil cause of action for monetary damages against the person or entity that is responsible for the unlawful dissemination of intimate image. These damages include compensation for loss of money, reputation or property. The Court can also award up to three times the actual damages sustained, attorney fees, court costs, and other relief the Court deems necessary and proper.
While most think of the individual who posts the images as the responsible party, many times an organization can also be held responsible. The posting of intimate images by a member of an organization, for example, companies, fraternities and institutions can be used as evidence to establish a cause of action against the whole organization.
Many major organizations have policies banning these actions. There are a number of tools for victims to report the illegal content and have it removed. It is important to take screen shots and document the actions before it is too late. Often, victims are unaware that the “revenge porn law” and its civil remedies exist and all too often victims of abuse are fearful to come forward with their story. Carin O’Donnell and Ryan Kilmer at Stark & Stark have experience fighting for victims of sexual abuse, and will treat you and your case with the compassion you deserve.